Area of Law: Employment Law
Answer Number: 606
What is wrongful dismissal?Region: Ontario Answer Number: 606
It is important to determine if you were wrongfully dismissed, because you may be entitled to money from your employer. If you were fired, you may be entitled to notice or pay instead of notice, and severance pay. Under the law, if your employer refuses to pay you what you are entitled to, then you have been wrongfully dismissed. However, if your employer gave you proper notice, or paid you all the money you were entitled to, it is not considered wrongful dismissal even if there was no cause for firing you. If the employer had a good legal reason, or cause, for firing you, then you are not entitled to notice or pay instead of notice, and you are not considered wrongfully dismissed.
What is ’cause’ for firing an employee?
An employee can be fired without proper notice if there was ’cause’, sometimes known as ‘just cause’. Cause for firing an employee may include:
- an illegal act at the workplace, such as stealing or damaging property, or violent behaviour;
- misrepresentation of important qualifications, such as saying you have a degree that you have not earned;
- insubordination, such as refusing to do work assigned to you;
- sexually harassing other employees;
- constantly being late for work; and
What is not ’cause’ for firing an employee?
Sometimes an employee does something wrong, but it is not a good legal reason to be fired without notice or pay. Reasons for firing an employee that are not cause under the law include:
- if an employee does something minor and corrects the mistake;
- if an employee’s work is not up to standard and the employer does nothing to address the problem;
- if your employer does not like you;
- if your employer discriminates against you because of your sex, race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation, unless permitted by law.
Claims for wrongful dismissal can involve substantial amounts of money. If you think you were wrongfully dismissed you should consult a lawyer.
More information on termination of employment may also be found from the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
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