Terminated From Your Employment? 3 Factors to Consider
Facing termination from employment is undoubtedly a challenging and often unexpected chapter in one’s professional journey. In the aftermath of such a significant event, navigating the next steps requires careful consideration of crucial factors that can profoundly impact your future. In this article, we will look at three key factors that demand your attention post-termination.
Factor 1. Was There Just Cause?
The first step for an employee is to determine whether their employer is terminating their employment with cause or without cause. This distinction is crucial because the type of dismissal directly affects the entitlements the employee has after termination.
If the employer characterizes the dismissal as “for cause” or with “just cause,” it means they are citing specific reasons for immediate termination. In such cases, an employee dismissed for cause may be denied most, if not all, of their severance entitlements.
Reasons for just cause typically include intentional and negligent misconduct, serious acts of dishonesty, insubordination, absenteeism, or other behaviour by the employee that irreparably damages the employment relationship. The threshold for proving just cause is very high, as denial of severance pay is a likely outcome.
When an employee is terminated without cause, the employer is not obligated to provide a reason for the dismissal. However, they must offer sufficient notice or pay in lieu of notice. If the employer’s claim of cause is deemed insufficient, the employee’s termination is considered without cause. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for employees navigating the complexities of termination and severance entitlements.
Factor 2. Did Your Employer Provide You Enough Notice?
When dismissed “without cause”, it is important to check whether an employer provided the employment sufficient working notice or pay in lieu of such notice. An employment lawyer can help you understand your legal entitlements unique to the circumstances of your termination.
In Ontario, an employee dismissed without cause is entitled to their Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) minimum termination pay. For an employee who has worked at least three months, the minimum amount of notice they are entitled to receive is one week. The employee’s minimum notice pay increases by one week for each completed year of employment, up to eight weeks.
Employers who terminate employees without cause must pay statutory severance pay under the ESA, calculated at one week per year of service, up to a maximum of 26 weeks. This will usually require an employee to have at least five years of service with an employer who has an annual employee payroll of at least two-and-a-half million.
Factor 3. Enforceable Termination Clause
Finally, employees without an enforceable termination clause restricting their entitlements upon termination are entitled to common law reasonable notice. The length or amount of common law reasonable notice an employer owes their employee depends on what are known as the Bardal factors.
The courts consider the following Bardal factors and any other relevant contextual considerations:
- The nature and character of the employment;
- The length of service;
- The age of the employee; and
- Other factors affecting how long it would take the employee to secure comparable employment, including the state of the economy and the labour market.
Reasonable notice pay includes an employee’s minimum statutory entitlements, but can be as high as a total of 24 months’ of pay or more in exceptional cases.
If an employer dismisses you without sufficient cause and fails to provide sufficient notice or payment in lieu of notice, you may have a claim for wrongful dismissal. This is a civil claim you may commence through the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
While severance is an important consideration, employees should be mindful that the unique circumstances of their their termination may entitle them to additional damages for:
- An employer’s bad faith conduct in the manner of termination;
- Violations of the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”); and
- Violations of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (“OHSA”).
If you have been dismissed and have questions regarding your termination package, an experienced employment litigation lawyer can assist. A lawyer can also help you understand the full scope of your available legal entitlements, and represent you in negotiations with your employer to maximize the value of your termination package.
Understanding Release Documents
When facing termination, it is crucial to pay close attention to any documents your employer presents for your signature. Often, employers may propose additional monetary compensation in exchange for a Full and Final Release, extinguishing all legal claims you might have against them. This includes claims related to severance and other employment-related damages.
Pro Tip: Why You Should Pause Before Signing
It is of utmost importance that you refrain from signing any Full and Final Release hastily. Before committing to such an agreement, it is recommended to consult with an employment lawyer to review your employer’s severance offer. Remember, you are not obligated to sign the Full and Final Release, and seeking independent legal advice is always a wise decision.
Signing a Full and Final Release without proper legal counsel, or under duress, can render the agreement unenforceable. To safeguard your rights and ensure a fair resolution, it is imperative to understand the implications of such documents and make informed decisions with the guidance of a qualified professional.
When an employer lets go of an employee, there are three key factors to consider:
- Cause of Dismissal: Determine if the dismissal is with or without cause. This distinction is crucial as it affects the entitlements you may have after termination.
- Notice or Severance: If the dismissal is without cause, check whether the employer provided sufficient working notice or severance pay. This ensures you understand the terms of your departure.
- Termination Offer and Release: Explore whether the employer is proposing a termination offer in exchange for a Full and Final Release. Be cautious about signing such agreements without careful consideration.
If you’ve recently experienced termination, seeking advice from an employment lawyer is essential. Legal entitlements extend beyond severance and may include damages for bad faith conduct, Code violations, or breaches of occupational health and safety regulations. An employment lawyer can assist in negotiating a fair severance package and guide you through the legal process to achieve your desired outcome.
Contact Achkar Law: Your Advocates in Employment Matters
If you find yourself navigating an employment termination and want guidance tailored to your situation, Achkar Law is here for you. Our team of dedicated employment lawyers is committed to advocating for your rights and ensuring you receive fair treatment.
Feel free to reach out for a consultation to discuss your case, understand your legal entitlements, and explore the best course of action. Our experienced team is ready to stand by you during this challenging time.