The Law of Wrongful Dismissal

The Law of Wrongful Dismissal

When an employer terminates the employment of an employee its obligation is to provide reasonable notice of termination.  What is “reasonable” depends on a number of factors including the employee’s age, position, years of service and the availability of alternate employment, taking into consideration the employee’s education and training.  There may be literally hundreds of other factors which the Court may use in determining “reasonable notice”, but the four factors specifically referred to above are paramount. An experienced employment lawyer can assist in assessing the notice period applicable in your particular case. At our firm we represent individuals in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Barrie, Oshawa, Milton, Vaughan and all other areas of the GTA.

A terminated employee is also entitled to the continuation of fringe benefits over the “reasonable notice” period.  Examples of such benefits include short term and long-term disability, pension, prescription insurance, dental insurance, eyewear insurance, life insurance, bonuses, stock option plans, etc.   Many people overlook the fact that benefits form an integral part of a remuneration package and neglect to include these benefits in the overall severance package.  In some cases these benefits may have a substantial value. An experienced employment lawyer will be able to assess all the benefits which should be included in your severance package.

Damages for wrongful dismissal are awarded to allow an employee appropriate time to find alternate employment.  Damages for wrongful dismissal are not to compensate for the manner of termination.  Courts allow for separate damage awards to compensate terminated employees for the “manner of termination” separate from the failure of an employer to provide reasonable notice of termination.  Examples of such conduct include an employer’s unjustified reliance on just cause, not providing a letter of reference and acting dishonestly (to name but a few). As experienced employment lawyers, we can assist in assessing whether the particular fact of your dismissal would warrant additional damages.

Employment Standards payments (commonly referred to as severance or termination pay) are prescribed in the Employment Standards Act (the “Act”) and are owing to an employee without an obligation to execute a release. For reference to the Act, please refer to https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/00e41 or https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/ Unlike wrongful dismissal damages Employment Standards payments are based solely on the years of service and the payroll of the employer and are not in any way related to an employee’s entitlement to “reasonable notice”.  In fact, reasonable notice will almost always be significantly greater than Employment Standards minimums.  To illustrate, take the example of a middle management employee, age 40, who is employed with a small company (payroll less than $2.5 million) for 12 years and earning $30,000.00 per year.  Statutory minimums would total 8 weeks termination pay plus outstanding vacation pay.  If you are asked to accept 8 weeks’ pay or $4,615.38 in exchange for executing a release the employee may be precluded from seeking reasonable notice which could range from 8 to 12 months or $20,000.00 to $25,000.00.  It is no wonder that employers typically ask terminated employees to sign a release in exchange for the minimum payments under the Employment Standards Act. To do so, in most cases, would be a grave mistake. Therefore any offer should be reviewed by an experienced employment lawyer. Here at MAGPC our experienced employment lawyers can review your case and advise you as to the value of your claim. Do not settle before you speak with an experienced employment lawyer and do not assume that Employment standards payments represent the total compensation to which you are entitled.

It is wise when put in the unenviable position of lay off or termination to seek out the services of an employment lawyer. We service clients from all over the GTA including Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton, Oshawa, Guelph, Barrie, Vaughn, Scarborough and Milton.

The above does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.  If you require the counsel of an experienced employment lawyer please contact me.

Marvin Gorodensky practices predominately in the area of employment law.  He can be reached at (416) 323-9395 or mgorodensky@dismissed.ca.