Losing a job is never easy. It can be especially difficult if you are forced to leave under unfair or even illegal circumstances. Those workers who have been terminated without cause are guaranteed certain rights under Ontario law. If you face job loss, make sure your employer respects these five basic rights.
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Right to Reasonable Notice of Termination
Employees are entitled to reasonable notice of their impending termination unless they have been employed for less than three months or if just cause warrants an immediate termination.
Just cause may exist in any of the following circumstances:
- willful misconduct;
- willful neglect of duties; and
- illegal or immoral behavior.
If you are not terminated for just cause, your employer is required by Ontario law to give you a certain amount of written notice prior to the date your employment ends. The amount of time required depends on the length of time you spent with that employer. A termination notice that complies with the statutory minimum requirements still may not constitute reasonable notice. Reasonable notice considers other factors like an employee’s advanced age or inability to find other work. Failing to provide an employee with reasonable notice of termination can be grounds for a wrongful dismissal suit against an employer.
Right to Receive Termination Pay
Payment in lieu of notice is generally paid in a lump sum payment that pays the employee’s wages for the notice period. An employer in Ontario must pay a terminated employee the minimum statutory termination pay within seven days of termination or by the employee’s next regular payday. Failing to provide the pay to a terminated employee who did not receive notice of termination may be grounds for legal action.
Protection against Constructive Dismissal
Employees have the right to be protected against constructive dismissal. Constructive dismissal occurs when you are still employed, but your job has been changed in a substantial way without your consent. An employer who changes your job requirements in such a way that it would be unfair or unreasonable to expect you to continue working may be liable for wrongful dismissal in a subsequent lawsuit.
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Right to Enforce the Terms of an Employment Contract
If you and your employer have a contract, you have the right to enforce the terms to which you both agreed. Additionally, your employment contract cannot override the rights given to you by Ontario law. You still are entitled to receive notice of termination and receive your owed wages, even if your employment contract specifies otherwise.
Right to Receive Severance Pay, if Owed
Some employees may have a statutory right to an additional amount for severance pay after termination. Employers with a payroll of $2.5 million or more or who have laid off or terminated more than 50 employees within the past six months will be required to provide severance pay to employees who have been employed for more than five years. The amount of severance pay depends on the number of years an employee has been working with the employer. Employees who have been terminated for just cause do not have a right to severance pay.
If you believe your former employer violated your rights, you may have a claim for wrongful termination. The lawyers at Preszler Law Firm can analyze the circumstances surrounding your termination and may be able to sue your former employer if you have a case. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® to speak with a lawyer about the possibility of a wrongful dismissal suit.