Dismissed Without Cause: Explained
A dismissal without cause, often referred to as a “Termination With Notice,” occurs when an employer ends an employee’s job without a specific reason. In Ontario, your boss can legally terminate your employment without providing a reason, as long as they follow the proper procedures. It’s important to note that this is different from “Just Cause Terminations,” where an employer believes an employee has done something seriously wrong.
In the case of a termination without cause, your termination is considered “wrongful” because it’s not due to any wrongdoing on your part. As a result, you are entitled to certain rights, including what’s known as a reasonable notice period or payment in lieu of notice. The purpose of these entitlements is to provide you with the necessary time and financial resources to seek alternative employment with a similar level of pay or job status. This ensures that you have a fair opportunity to transition to a new job without experiencing undue financial hardship.
What is a Termination Package?
A termination package is a critical aspect of a termination without cause. When your employer ends your employment without a specific reason, they typically offer you a termination package as part of the process. This package is financial compensation, which can be provided in a lump-sum payment or through the continuation of your salary and benefits over a specific period.
A Termination Package typically comprises several elements, including:
Severance Pay: This is a lump-sum payment provided by your employer as compensation for your job loss. The amount can vary based on factors like your years of service, position, and employment contract.
Continuation of Salary: In some cases, your employer might agree to continue paying your salary for a specified period following your termination. This ensures you have income during your job search.
Benefits Continuation: Your benefits, such as health and dental coverage, might continue for a specific duration post-termination. This can help you maintain access to essential services while you seek new employment.
Accrued Vacation Pay: Any unused vacation days you’ve accrued but not taken can be included in the termination package.
Retirement and Pension Contributions: If applicable, your employer may continue making contributions to your retirement or pension plan during the notice period.
The purpose of the termination package is to assist you during the transitional period following your termination. This period can be challenging, and the package aims to provide you with both time and financial resources to help you find alternative employment that aligns with your previous pay or job status.
To access the benefits of the termination package, you’ll be required to sign a Full and Final Release. This document is given to you by your employer, and it outlines the terms and conditions of your termination, as well as the agreed-upon compensation and any other relevant details. By signing this document, you essentially agree not to take any legal action against your employer related to the termination.
It’s important to thoroughly understand the contents of the termination package and Full and Final Release before signing. Consulting with an experienced employment lawyer can be invaluable in ensuring that your rights are protected, and you receive a fair and just compensation package.
Determining Your Notice Period
In cases of termination without cause, the initial document that comes into play is your employment contract. Your employment contract outlines the notice period or payment in lieu of notice you are owed.
Employers often aim to set termination notice periods in line with the minimum requirements under the Employment Standards Act (ESA). However, employers cannot bypass or waive these minimum ESA entitlements. These standards are the fundamental, non-negotiable rights employees have, which cannot be overridden by the explicit or implied terms in an employment contract.
Common Law Severance
Common law is a legal framework shaped by judicial decisions. These decisions serve as precedents and guide the legal principles applied in cases with similarities to yours. In employment law and terminations, common law severance plays a crucial role in determining your rights when it comes to terminations entitlements.
An experienced employment lawyer will thoroughly examine your employment contract to ascertain whether you’ve relinquished your common law severance entitlements. Even if you’ve signed an employment contract that restricts your notice period to the statutory minimums set by the Employment Standards Act (ESA), a skilled employment lawyer can explore strategies to challenge the contract and pursue your common law severance rights. It’s essential to consult with a legal professional to understand the full scope of your entitlements in a termination without cause scenario.
What is a Full and Final release?
A Full and Final Release is a legally binding document presented by your employer upon termination. By signing it, you agree not to pursue legal claims against your employer related to your termination. The document typically includes clauses covering:
Release of Claims: You release your employer from potential legal claims.
Confidentiality: You agree to keep employment and termination details confidential.
Non-Disparagement: You commit not to make negative comments about your former employer.
Return of Company Property: You agree to return company items.
Non-Compete or Non-Solicitation: Restrictions on competing or soliciting former clients/employees may be included.
Consideration: In exchange, you receive a termination package.
Time Limits: There’s usually a deadline for signing and returning the document.
Carefully review and consider legal advice before signing, as it waives your right to legal action against your former employer.
Contact Achkar Law
If you have questions or have been terminated without cause, contact us today. We can help with reviewing and understanding your employment contract before you sign it. Our team of experienced wrongful dismissal lawyers at Achkar Law can help.