Toronto Wrongful Dismissal & Termination Lawyers
For employers, a termination can be one of the most difficult decisions to be made during the course of an employment relationship and attracts significant liability if undertaken incorrectly or without guidance from an employment lawyer.
For employees, termination is an undoubtedly stressful time in their lives, filled with uncertainty and fear. Many employees are not aware of what they are entitled to upon termination, what an appropriate severance package should be, or what their rights are in such a situation.
At Baker & Company, our highly experienced Toronto employment lawyers have more than 30 years of experience guiding both employers and employees through the termination process. We advise clients on their options, ensure they are complying with all of their obligations, help them make critical decisions, and protect their rights.
In most instances where an employee is terminated without cause, employers may terminate an employee, so long as they provide that employee with sufficient working notice, or pay in lieu of that notice (i.e. termination pay)- unless they are terminated for cause.
Working notice of termination may be given to an employee in advance of the termination date so as to give the employee ample time to find new employment before the arrival of the termination date. Where this occurs, the employee is expected to work for the duration of the notice period and will continue to be paid the same wages and receive health and other benefits.
Alternatively, some employers prefer to require the terminated employee to leave immediately and choose to pay the terminated employee the income the employee would have earned during the period of working notice. This is known as termination pay or pay in lieu of notice.
Minimum notice periods are regulated by the Employment Standards Act, which provides a “floor” of rights that cannot be contracted out of through provisions in an employment contract and must be provided to all terminated employees (unless they have been terminated for cause).
This minimum amount of notice (or pay in lieu of notice) is based on the length of time the terminated employee worked for the employer:
|Length of Employment||Notice Required|
|Less than 3 months||None|
|3 months but less than 1 year||1 week|
|1 year but less than 3 years||2 weeks|
|3 years but less than 4 years||3 weeks|
|4 years but less than 5 years||4 weeks|
|5 years but less than 6 years||5 weeks|
|6 years but less than 7 years||6 weeks|
|7 years but less than 8 years||7 weeks|
|8 years or more||8 weeks|
It is important to note that Ontario courts (known as ‘common law’) have a long history of requiring employers to give longer periods of notice to employees than the minimum notice periods required by the Employment Standards Act.
Severance pay is considered a benefit for long-term employees and is provided in recognition of their commitment to an organization.
In order to be eligible for severance pay upon termination, an employee must have had worked for the employer for at least five years, and the employer must have a total annual payroll of $2.5 million or more.
Severance pay is calculated by multiplying an employee’s regular weeks’ wages by the number of years they were employed by the employer, up to a maximum of 26 weeks’ pay.
There are some situations that arise in a workplace setting that can be grounds for immediate dismissal without the need for notice or termination pay. Such incidents include theft, fraud, and other illegal activity.
Employers and terminated employees often disagree about how much notice or pay in lieu of notice is fair following termination, or whether a termination was with or without cause. This can result in a wrongful dismissal complaint and subsequent negotiations, and in some cases, even litigation, over what the appropriate amount should be.
Employees who have been dismissed for cause can file a wrongful dismissal complaint challenging the reasons for their dismissal and demanding termination pay.
Negotiations over appropriate termination pay can be stressful, contentious, and prolonged. They should not be undertaken without first consulting with a knowledgeable employment lawyer. Where no resolution is reached during these discussions, the issue will proceed to litigation, which has the potential to be even more lengthy and anxiety-filled.
In any termination, the situation can be fraught and there is a lot on the line. At Baker & Company we understand this and work hard to make the process clear, provide you with pragmatic and practical guidance, represent you throughout any negotiations, mediations, and litigation, and work towards a beneficial solution that is in your best interests.
We are both everyday trusted advisors and problem solvers. As advisors, we navigate our clients through issues and questions that may arise on a day-to-day basis. We provide proactive guidance and advice intended to address matters before they escalate into major issues. As problem solvers, we respond quickly and efficiently where a serious concern presents itself and where litigation or other legal intervention is required.
We represent both employers and employees and use this experience on both sides of the table to our clients’ advantage. If you would like to speak with one of our highly experienced Toronto employment lawyers, call us at 416-777-0100 or contact us online for a consultation.