When Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination?



In Canada, employment is not “At Will,” which means that employers cannot terminate an employee for any reason and without compensation or notice. So if your employer fires you for a reason that is illegal under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), such as discrimination or retaliation, you have been wrongfully dismissed.

Next, you want to call a Toronto employment lawyer for legal counsel. An employment lawyer could help you understand your legal options and potential remedies, such as reinstatement or financial compensation.

What Amounts to a Wrongful Termination?

For a termination to be considered wrongful, it must violate either the terms of an employment contract or a statute. For example, if an employee is fired without cause in breach of their contract, it would be a wrongful termination. Alternatively, if an employee is fired due to their race, religion, or other protected characteristic, this would also be considered wrongful termination.

Wrongful terminations can occur for a variety of reasons. In some cases, an employer may violate the terms of an employment contract. For example, if an employee is promised a certain amount of notice before being terminated but is then fired without any warning, this would be considered a breach of contract. An employer may act in contravention of a statute in other cases, such as firing an employee for engaging in lawful union activity.

Contract Claims for Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination claims fall into two categories: breach of contract or wrongful dismissal. If you have a written employment contract, your lawyer will review it to see if the terms were violated. Your claim will likely fall under wrongful dismissal if you do not have a contract. To succeed in a wrongful dismissal claim, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were dismissed without cause and suffered damages.

If you can prove the above elements, you could be entitled to compensation for lost wages and benefits. Depending on your dismissal circumstances, you could be entitled to reinstatement, compensation for lost wages, or damages for mental anguish. In other cases, you could sue for breach of contract.

Wrongful Discharge Under Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblowers keep businesses and organizations honest because they bring to light wrongdoings that would otherwise go unnoticed. Whistleblower protection legislation like the Competition Act, Criminal Code, or Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 protects employees who report wrongdoing from being fired or punished by their employers.

Unfortunately, whistleblowers often pay the price for their honesty. You could be passed over for promotions or assignments, given poor performance reviews, or even fired. In many cases, the firing is a wrongful discharge. Wrongful discharge occurs when an employee is fired in violation of employment laws or contracts or in retaliation for whistle-blowing or other protected activity.

● Statutes that Protect Whistleblowers

Many statutes protect whistleblowers from being unfairly dismissed from their employment in Toronto. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits employers from terminating an employee based on their race, sex, disability, or other protected characteristic.

Additionally, the Ontario Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum requirements employers must provide to employees, such as vacation pay and sick days. Other laws that protect whistleblowers include the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and the Ontario Public Service code of conduct.

However, it is important to note that these protections do not always prevent dismissal from employment, and it is advisable to consult with an employment lawyer to determine whether you have a valid claim.

Wrongful Termination Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA)

The ESA is a provincial law that sets out the minimum standards for employment in Ontario, including work hours, vacation pay, and termination notice. If your employer has not followed the ESA when terminating your employment, you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal.

To succeed in a claim for wrongful dismissal, you must show that:

  • You were an employee covered by the ESA, and your employer did not follow the proper procedure for terminating your employment.
  • The termination was motivated by discrimination or retaliation.
  • You suffered financial problems because of the wrongful termination.

If you can meet the elements listed above, you could be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, and other damages.

Wrongful Constructive Termination

Wrongful constructive termination occurs when an employer breaches the employment contract or forces the employee to resign due to intolerable working conditions. If you have been constructively terminated, you may be entitled to severance pay and other compensation. An experienced employment lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the damages you deserve.

Wrongful Discharge for Divergent Political Views  

In recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of employment law cases involving wrongful dismissal for divergent political views. In Toronto, for example, a woman was fired from her job after she posted a picture of herself on social media wearing a “There Is No Planet B” T-shirt.

The woman’s employer claimed that her political views did not align with the company’s values, and she was therefore terminated. While it is legal for employers to set expectations around employee conduct, they cannot arbitrarily fire employees for divergent political views.


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