Wrongful Dismissal in Canada: In Canada, employment law provides essential protections for workers, ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. Wrongful dismissal is a significant aspect of this legal framework, safeguarding employees from unjust termination.
It refers to situations where an employer terminates an employee’s contract without proper cause or notice, thereby violating their rights.
Stacey Ball, a wrongful dismissal lawyer takes a look at the concept of wrongful dismissal in Canada, its legal implications, and gives two examples to illustrate its application.
Understanding Wrongful Dismissal
Wrongful dismissal is distinct from unfair dismissal, which involves situations where the termination itself is discriminatory or violates human rights.
In contrast, wrongful dismissal focuses on the employer’s failure to adhere to contractual or statutory obligations when ending an employment relationship.
Canadian employment laws typically recognize two forms of dismissal: termination with cause and termination without cause.
Termination with Cause
Termination with cause occurs when an employer dismisses an employee due to serious misconduct or gross negligence.
For instance, if an employee engages in theft, harassment, or breaches the company’s trust in any way, the employer may have valid grounds for termination with cause.
However, employers must provide clear evidence supporting their decision to avoid wrongful dismissal claims.
Termination without Cause
Termination without cause takes place when an employer decides to end the employment relationship for reasons that are not related to employee performance or conduct.
In such instances, employers are required to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice to the employee.
Failing to do so can result in a wrongful dismissal claim.
Determining Reasonable Notice
Reasonable notice refers to the duration of notice an employer must provide an employee before termination, allowing them sufficient time to seek alternative employment.
Courts consider various factors when determining reasonable notice, including the employee’s age, length of service, position, and availability of similar job opportunities in the job market.
Example of Wrongful Dismissal in Canada
There are countless examples of true wrongful termination lawsuits filed against Canadian businesses. The two provided here are fictional.
Example 1: Sudden Termination without Cause
John, a skilled marketing executive, had been working at a marketing agency for over five years when he was abruptly terminated and not given a reason for his termination.
The company also neglected to provide him with prior warning.
As John’s position was specialized and opportunities in his field were limited, he believed the termination was unfair and filed a wrongful dismissal claim.
The court ruled in John’s favour, stating that the lack of reasonable notice was a violation of his employment rights.
Example 2: Termination with Unsubstantiated Cause
Susan, a customer service representative, was terminated by her retail company for alleged poor performance. However, the company failed to provide any documentation or evidence supporting Susan’s supposed inadequate performance.
Susan challenged her termination, claiming wrongful dismissal.
The court determined that the employer did not have just cause for termination as they failed to provide substantial evidence of poor performance, resulting in a wrongful dismissal verdict.
Wrongful dismissal protections in Canada play a vital role in safeguarding employees from unjust termination.
Understanding the distinction between termination with cause and without cause, as well as determining reasonable notice, is crucial for both employers and employees.c