Are you facing significant changes in your job conditions or position imposed by your employer? If these unilateral changes are making it difficult for you to continue in your role and you are considering resignation, you could be entitled to compensation. Our team of experienced employment and dismissal lawyers is here to guide and assist you through the legal process. At Achkar Law, we focus on constructive dismissal cases and can help you understand your rights, entitlements, and the best course of action. Do not navigate this complex situation alone—reach out to our constructive dismissal lawyers today and protect your rights as an employee.
What is Constructive Dismissal in Ontario?
Constructive dismissal, sometimes known as disguised dismissal, happens when your employer makes a significant change to a fundamental term of your employment contract without the employee’s consent. This can include changes to your pay, position, reporting structure, or work location, among other things.
These changes, when implemented unilaterally, can make it challenging for you to continue in your role and may cause you to consider or go forward with resigning.
To be considered constructive dismissal in Ontario, a crucial factor is that the changes must be initiated solely by the employer, without your consent. If you agree to any change or substantial changes, it may not constitute constructive dismissal.
Examples of unilateral changes that may constitute constructive dismissal include:
- Change of employee’s duties or tasks;
- Change of the employee’s hours of work or shift;
- Change of job conditions;
- Unfair treatment;
- Significant reduction or increase in responsibility;
- Hostile or toxic work environment;
- Reduced compensation or salary, pay, commission, or bonus; and
The courts assess how a reasonable person in the employee’s situation would have felt when the fundamental terms or conditions of the initial employment contract were substantially altered.
To prove constructive dismissal in Ontario, you must demonstrate that the employer’s unilateral and substantial change led to a fundamental change in your employment contract, pushing you to resign.
Consequences of Constructive Dismissal
If you can prove that you have been constructively dismissed, your employer may be required to provide you both termination pay and severance pay. These termination and severance packages can include payments for lost wages, bonuses, benefits, and other entitlements.
However, proving constructive dismissal can be challenging, as it requires demonstrating that your employer breached your employment contract and that their actions were serious enough to warrant your resignation. This is why it is important to speak with an experienced employment lawyer who can advise you on the strength of your case and help you navigate the legal process.
Constructive Dismissal vs Wrongful Dismissal
Constructive dismissal and wrongful dismissal are two different legal concepts, although they can sometimes overlap.
Wrongful termination or wrongful dismissal occurs when an employer fires an employee without cause or without following the proper procedures for termination.
Constructive dismissal, on the other hand, occurs when an employer makes unilateral changes to an employee’s contract of employment that are significant enough to justify resignation. In both cases, the employee may be entitled to compensation, but the specific entitlements can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have Been Constructively Dismissed?
If you believe that you have been constructively dismissed, it is important to take action right away. Employees often stay quiet and hope that the employer will revert their change – all to be disappointed in remaining under the new changes. If you stay long without complaining about the changes, your employer may be able to claim ‘condonation’ – meaning you agreed to the changes through continuing to work. However, do not give up or assume that you have condoned the change; make sure you speak with an employment lawyer today about being constructively dismissed.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Document the Changes: Keep a record of any changes that your employer has made to your employment contract, including the date of the change, the nature of the change, and any communications you have had with your employer about the change.
- Raise Your Concerns: Let your employer know that you do not agree with the changes to your employment contract and that you consider them to be a breach of your agreement. Do this in writing, so that you have a record of your objections.
- Seek Legal Advice: Speak with an employment lawyer who has experience in constructive dismissal cases. They can advise you on your rights and help you decide on the best course of action.
- Take Action: Depending on the specifics of your case, your employment lawyer may recommend sending a demand letter, filing a Statement of Claim, or pursuing other legal options to protect your rights and entitlements.
Maintaining strong evidence is vital in a constructive dismissal case. Evidence, such as medical documentation, relevant written communications, and proof of job search efforts after leaving your employer, can significantly enhance your argument.
Where the employer outright terminates you or pushes you out through constructive dismissal, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure you receive your entitlements upon termination.
How Achkar Law Can Help
If you have been constructively dismissed, contact our office as soon as possible. We can explain your options, and advise you of how to best protect your rights moving forward. It is best to consult with a lawyer before you resign.
It is advised not to resign without first seeking legal advice, since timing is key when alleging constructive dismissal in Ontario.
Contact Achkar Law Today
If you believe you have been constructively dismissed, do not hesitate to reach out to our team at Achkar Law. Our experienced constructive dismissal lawyers and employment lawyers are ready to help you understand your legal rights and options. Our employment lawyers have a wealth of experience representing clients in diverse industries and successfully navigating cases of constructive dismissal in Ontario.
Understanding that each case is unique, we collaborate closely with our clients to develop a personalized legal strategy tailored to their individual needs. There is no substitute for seeking advice from a constructive dismissal lawyer about the next steps and the legal process, especially given the inherent risk associated with constructive dismissal claims.