23 Jan Wrongful Dismissal & Wrongful Termination
Have you been wrongfully dismissed or wrongfully terminated?
When asked what brings them to see me, many new employment law clients tell me that they have been wrongfully dismissed or wrongfully terminated. Not surprisingly, they want to know if they can sue their employer for wrongful termination and what an average settlement for this wrongful termination might be.
Many of these employees didn’t do anything wrong. They worked hard, they received positive performance reviews, they had not been the subject of any warnings or other discipline. They were all-around good employees.
Right to keep your job
So doesn’t a good employee have the right to keep their job? The short answer is no.
Employees have rights, but in most cases, the right to keep your job is not one of those employee rights. An employer has the right to terminate your employment “without cause”. Generally speaking, the reason why doesn’t matter: business is slow, the position has been outsourced, just because they feel like it. In fact, the employer is generally not required to give any reason for the decision to terminate employment.
In a “without cause” termination, the employer isn’t saying that the employee did anything wrong, that’s a “with cause” termination, or what tends to be called “getting fired”.
There are a few exceptions to the concept that an employer can let anyone go, at any time, for any reason. Some examples included: a unionized environment where a collective agreement sets out the rights of employees on this subject or where there is a Human Rights issue (discrimination, sexual harassment etc.) that would amount to a breach of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
In a “without cause” termination, the employer-employee relationship has come to an end and the only question is how much compensation the employee is entitled to. For most employees, this primarily a question of how much notice or pay in lieu of notice the employee is entitled to, but there may be other compensation involved as well. Every situation is different. This is often called a severance package.
A “wrongful dismissal” is a question of fair severance or compensation.
In a “without cause” termination, as long as the employee is provided with proper compensation, there is nothing wrongful in the termination.
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