Wrongful Dismissal in Ontario

Non-union employees in Canada do not have an entitlement to continued employment.  That is, an employer is permitted by law to terminate an employee, as long as an advanced warning or payment, known as reasonable notice or severance is provided.

What is most often disputed is the amount of notice or pay that an employee is entitled to.  This dispute is the basis of many wrongful dismissal claims.  In essence, the employee will claim that the employer has not offered to pay a satisfactory amount of severance following his or her termination.  An excellent example of a routine wrongful dismissal case can be read here.

Reasonable notice or severance pay is not limited to merely an employee’s salary.

Reasonable notice or severance pay is not limited to merely an employee’s salary. Generally, an employee is entitled to all non-discretionary payments that he or she earned while employed, which forms the basis for many wrongful dismissal claims over unpaid bonuses, sales commissions, benefits and stock options.

In other cases, the employer may claim that the employee committed some form of misconduct that eliminates the need to provide reasonable notice or severance.  In this scenario, the employer states that it has “cause for dismissal.”  Since an employer who states that it has cause for dismissal will not make any payments to an employee, many of these employees sue for wrongful dismissal, claiming that the reason for their dismissal does not justify the employer’s decision to withhold pay or that the employer’s decision to allege cause was made in bad faith.

Following any type of dismissal, employers will usually provide a termination letter setting out the severance package that will be provided or, if not, the reasons why the employer believes it has cause for dismissal.  It is critical to meet with an employment lawyer at this point, and before signing any documents, to determine if you are entitled to more.

In other scenarios it is not entirely clear if you have actually been dismissed.  At this point, it is also critical that you meet with an employment lawyer in order to ensure that your legal position is not prejudiced by any steps that you take.

Read our employment law articles about wrongful dismissal for more information.