Wrongful dismissal isn’t an acceptable way to get rid of staff. Do you believe you were wrongfully dismissed from your recent job? If you think you were, consider the five signs below.
1. Contractual Obligations
If you signed a contract with an employer, it likely includes a termination clause. This is an important clause to reread, not only if you think you’ve been wrongfully dismissed but because many of these clauses aren’t drafted properly. The clause has to abide by the province’s minimum standards per the Employment Standards Act, provincial legislation that spells out terms such as how much notice employers have to give, how much employees are entitled to pay in lieu of, and other features.
As the clause is often improperly drafted, not all employers follow the standards, and you might find yourself shortchanged by being incorrectly let go. Employees can still be rewarded in court, often through remedies followed in common law reasonable notice damages. Ensure you double check your employment contract to see whether termination standards were met.
2. “Reasonable” Notice
Reasonable notice is defined using a variety of encompassing factors. These factors include age, length of service, education, position held, seniority, and likelihood of future employment. If reasonable notice isn’t given, employers still have the obligation to provide their staff with sufficient working notice of dismissal.
The term “reasonable,” even with its definition, can still be subjective. The notice you were given could be considered inadequate, in which case you might have an argument. If you didn’t receive notice or a deadline specifying the designated end date, there could be grounds for wrongful dismissal.
3. Discriminatory Practice
All employers are bound to the Ontario Human Rights Code, provincial legislation that protects employees from unjust discrimination and harassment in specific areas—one of those being employment. Employers can’t dismiss staff without legal grounds. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully dismissed based on discriminatory practice, you could take legal action by bringing an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
The same hiring practices apply to firing, and an employer must show the reason for termination is clearly work or business-related—not discriminatory. Dismissal must be lawful. If it’s not, you’re entitled to the appropriate remedies concerning your issue.
4. Forced to Sign
Were you handed a termination package that you had to sign right away? Employees are not required to sign these documents the day of, and they should be given a full week to consider all the details and review it with a third-party expert, such as a lawyer or other legal professional.
If it was a hasty sign, the court can rule undue and improper pressure on the employee. This decision often results in the termination package no longer being considered binding. In other words, the package will no longer be deemed valid. Employees are entitled to recover wages or other appropriate compensation. This is an important part of a legal dismissal. The employee shouldn’t feel rushed to sign paperwork simply to get it done with.
5. Fear of Reprisal
Employers and businesses have plenty of rules to abide by, in addition to discrimination and fair practice. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, in addition to the Employment Standards Act, ensures employers provide safe working environments, adequate breaks, working hours, holiday pay, and more. If you, the employee, attempt to enforce aspects of these rules which the employer failed to do and you were let go because of your actions, your termination could be grounds for wrongful dismissal.
Employers have a legal duty to create hospitable working spaces and ensure they remain that way. Certain aspects of workplace safety legislation have to be enforced, and employees shouldn’t be penalized for trying to enforce those aspects because their employers did not.
If you believe you’ve been wrongfully dismissed from your job, consider contacting an employment lawyer to assess your situation. Everybody is entitled to fair and just termination.