employment law

Employment Law

Safeguarding workplace rights and fighting for benefits for employees across Ontario and in federally regulated workplaces.

Working With Us

For many of us, most of our adult lives are spent at work.  If you experience a problem at work or lose your job, it can be incredibly stressful and may lead to difficult legal and financial challenges.  

In addition to representing unionized employees, our lawyers have established expertise advising and representing non-unionized employees on all aspects of their employment including:

  • reviewing and providing legal advice on employment contracts including bonus clauses, stock options and non-compete and non-solicitation clauses, 
  • reviewing and providing legal advice on severance packages and negotiating mutually agreeable resolutions,
  • providing advice to employees whose workplace is undergoing a restructure or who have been laid off, 
  • advising employees on their legal rights if they have experienced workplace bullying, harassment and/or discrimination at work,
  • advising employees about their legal rights under occupational health and safety legislation,
  • advising employees who have been denied access to long term disability benefits, 
  • filing a lawsuit when an employee has been wrongfully dismissed.

If you experience a problem at work and are not unionized, it can be difficult to get the help that you need.  The lawyers at Jewitt McLuckie are here to help.  We can provide quick and cost effective advice about your legal options if you have an employment law issue.  We are experienced at advocating on behalf of individual employees and have a proven track record at negotiating resolutions as well as proceeding to court if employers are unwilling to negotiate.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What is wrongful dismissal?

Wrongful dismissal is a legal term used to describe circumstances when an employer dismisses a non-unionized employee without “cause” (ie. without having a good reason) and without providing the employee with “reasonable notice” that they are ending their employment or appropriate severance pay in lieu of notice.  

If an employee is dismissed for “cause”, such as theft, assault or insubordination, employers are not required to provide “reasonable notice” or severance pay.  However, sometimes there can be a disagreement about whether or not the employer had “cause” to terminate employment. 

If a non-unionized employee believes they have been dismissed without appropriate notice or severance, they can sue their employer in court.  This is what is known as a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

What is a severance package?

A severance package can include money and benefits that are paid to an employee when their employment is terminated without cause.  

Employment standards legislation typically sets a minimum amount of severance pay that employers must pay when they terminate employment without cause.  In Ontario, severance pay is owed when an employee has worked for an employer for at least five years and the employer has a payroll over $2.5 million.  The amount of severance pay owed to an employee depends on an employee’s years of service. Termination pay is the minimum amount of pay that an employer must pay when they terminate an employee who has been employed for at least 3 months without notice or cause.  The amount owing is not dependent on the size of the employer’s organization.   

If an employee believes that their employer has not paid the minimum amount of severance and/or termination pay required by legislation, they can file a complaint with the appropriate labour board or they can file a lawsuit.   

What is reasonable notice?

Separate from any statutory obligations under employment standards legislation, the courts have determined that employers are allowed to dismiss an employee without cause so long as they provide “reasonable notice”.  This means that employers must provide employees with a period of paid time in order for them to find alternate employment.  The length of notice that must be provided can vary based on a number of factors including:

  • the type of job the employee held with the employer,
  • the employee’s age,
  • the employee’s length of service with the employee, 
  • the availability of similar employment elsewhere, taking into account the training and qualifications of the employee.
What is constructive dismissal?

Where an employer doesn’t directly fire an employee but, instead, changes a fundamental term of employment, the employee may have been constructively dismissed.  Fundamental changes to terms of employment include significant reduction to wages, removing key responsibilities, demotions, moving the work location to a different city or permitting a toxic work environment to exist.  

If you think that you have been constructively dismissed, it is best to seek advice from a lawyer about your legal options as soon as possible.  An employment lawyer can review your circumstances and advise whether you actually have a claim for constructive dismissal or not.  In particular, you should seek legal advice before taking any additional steps, such as resigning or continuing to work, as this area of law is complex.   

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