Contrary to popular belief, wrongful dismissal usually has little to do with your employer’s reasons for terminating your employment. Rather, the wrongfulness of a wrongful dismissal refers to the lack of a reasonable notice period and/or severance pay. This right to notice of termination is one of the most valuable legal protections you have as an employee. In most cases, employers will try to get away with paying as little as possible to terminated employees despite what's written in employment contracts. This strategy often works - many employees are unaware of their legal entitlements and allow their employers to get away with the bare minimum.
Don’t let this happen to you. If your employment has been terminated, book a free consultation today with one of our Toronto employment lawyers to help you determine your employee rights.
How an employment lawyer can support you
After being wrongfully terminated, you may feel unsure of what to do next. Rest assured you are not alone. When you call the employment lawyers at Share Lawyers, you will speak with an employment lawyer who knows labour employment law, knows what you are going through, and can offer you the best possible advice at no cost to you.
Why you should contact us:
- It’s free to talk to our employment law firm
- There are no fees unless you win
- We specialize in Canadian employment law and can go through your options
- We make arrangements for a free consultation with one of our employment lawyers to see how we can fight back if you've been wrongfully dismissed
- We're there to answer all of your questions
An employment lawyers explains: "What is wrongful dismissal?"
Contrary to popular understanding, wrongful dismissal usually has nothing to do with the reasons for your dismissal. The thing that makes a dismissal wrongful is the lack of reasonable notice. The remedy that a court can award you for wrongful dismissal is pay instead of reasonable notice.
What is “constructive dismissal”? Is it different from wrongful dismissal?
Constructive dismissal occurs when your employer changes important terms of your employment, or otherwise treats you very poorly, to the point that your employment may legally be considered terminated. Constructive dismissal can occur even if your employer has taken no steps to dismiss you – in other words, the dismissal is “constructed” at law from the surrounding circumstances. An employee who is constructively dismissed can quit and sue for wrongful dismissal. The damages for constructive dismissal are exactly the same as those for wrongful dismissal.
Wrongfully dismissed from your job
A wrongful dismissal is a termination without cause that occurs with inadequate notice. Termination “without cause” is the standard basis upon which an employer will dismiss an employee. You may have certain entitlements arising out of that wrongful termination, which we can speak with you about, and help you recover from your employer.
Wrongful dismissal entitlements are measured in terms of notice (or, much more often, pay in lieu of notice). The Court will look at your circumstances and determine how much advance notice of termination you ought to have received. If you did not receive adequate notice, the court will award you the payment that you would have earned if you had received proper notice.
How much notice am I entitled to?
Our employment lawyers will give you an estimate of the amount of notice you may be entitled to, which will fall in the range of 0 and 24 months. The amount of notice or pay you are entitled to is not an exact science, and will typically fall within a significant range of outcomes depending on your circumstances – most significantly, your age, length of service, character of employment and chances of re-employment to a similar role. Your employer may (or may not) make you an offer for pay in lieu of notice upon terminating your employment. Your employer’s first offer may be on the low side of that range.
Things that can affect your notice entitlement
Your employment contract
Our wrongful dismissal lawyers need to see your employment contract or employment agreement that you signed at the beginning of your employment. It may contain terms limiting or removing altogether your “common law” severance entitlement. The advice an employment lawyer provides to you can change drastically depending on what we see in your employment contract.
Your efforts to seek re-employment (or lack thereof)
If the issue of your wrongful termination proceeds to litigation, you may have a legal duty to make “reasonable efforts” to look for comparable replacement employment. You need to be able to prove (with documentation) that you have done so. If you cannot prove that “reasonable efforts”, your entitlements will be negatively affected (for more details, see the information sheet on “mitigation”, if applicable).
Your success in seeking re-employment (or lack thereof)
If you secure another job, your replacement income will reduce your common law severance entitlement accordingly (for more details, see the information sheet on “mitigation”, if applicable).
Things that usually DO NOT affect your notice entitlement
Your employer’s reasons for dismissing you
With some narrow exceptions, your employer’s reasons will not impact the amount you are entitled to. Our employment lawyers will ask you questions about your wrongful dismissal claim to advise you whether your employer’s reasons are likely to be relevant (for more information, see the information sheet on “general damages”, if applicable).
Workplace conflicts, grievances, disagreements, or other unresolved issues from your employment
In the interests of simplicity, courts prefer to leave all of these issues behind at the point of termination. There are some narrow exceptions to this rule, where your employer has acted maliciously towards you or breached your basic human or employment rights.
Your job performance
Your entitlements are not merit-based. Your job performance has no bearing upon your entitlements.
Justifications for denying notice entitlement (dismissal for “just cause”)
In extreme circumstances, your employer may have “just cause” to terminate your employment without notice. However, courts typically reserve cause for the worst and most egregious offences, such as dishonesty, theft, violence, harassment, etc. Employers often attempt to terminate employees for cause with inadequate justification.
As long as you are putting in a genuine, good-faith effort to perform your job duties, your employer will find it very difficult to use this as a basis to terminate you for cause.
An error – even one with significant consequences - is typically not grounds to terminate for cause. Unless your mistake was the result of knowingly failing to follow established policies and procedures, it is very unlikely that this would represent just cause for your dismissal without notice.
Failing to follow proper procedures
Unless you have received multiple clear warnings, failing to follow your employer’s policies and procedures typically does not give rise to termination for just cause.
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Employment lawyer fees
We are different from other law firms dealing with employment law because we work on contingency and you do not have to pay any fees unless you win.* There are no upfront costs and there are no fees until we settle your case. Everything is results-driven, and we only get paid if you get paid. It is part of our Share Law Guarantee.
*certain exceptions apply and in cases where we are not able to offer a contingency fee retainer, we will discuss the other options with you.
How much time do I have?
Employment claims are subject to certain time limits. As soon as you have been terminated from your employment, feel that your rights as an employee have been ignored, or feel like you may have a wrongful dismissal claim, we encourage you to contact the employment lawyers at Share Lawyers for legal advice and to discuss your case.
If you have been wrongfully dismissed and are unsure if it is fair, we will review it and talk you through all of your options — free of charge. It’s important to be informed about the employment process and to know your rights.
No fees unless you win your case
We understand your situation and that paying for an employment lawyer may feel out of reach. We are here to help you. That is why we offer a free consultation, why there are no upfront costs to you, and why there are no fees unless you win your case. You’re not alone. We believe in your case, which is why we only get paid when you do.
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