Small Claims Court (Ontario) and Wrongful Termination
Have you been terminated without cause, and are you uncertain about the adequacy of your severance package? If so, you may have the option to take legal action against your employer. But what steps should you take, and which court should you file your claim with?
This article offers a brief overview of what termination without cause entails, how to assess your entitlement to severance, and when to consider pursuing a wrongful dismissal claim through the Small Claims court. Additionally, learn how Achkar Law’s experienced lawyers can assist you in negotiating and litigating your severance package.
Termination Without Cause: What Does It Mean?
Termination without cause occurs when an employer dismisses an employee for reasons unrelated to the employee’s performance. However, it becomes a wrongful dismissal when the employer fails to provide sufficient notice or compensation in place of notice. In such cases, when an employer does not fulfill its legal obligations to an employee, it can lead to a wrongful dismissal claim.
Assessing Your Severance Entitlements
If you’re terminated without cause, your entitlements as an employee may include:
- Statutory entitlements as per the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000.
- Common law reasonable notice.
- Other legal avenues for compensation.
The amount of severance an employer owes in cases of termination without cause varies based on specific factors and the terms of the employment agreement. Typically, the longer an employee has worked for an employer, the higher the severance they may be entitled to.
Taking Action When Terminated Without Cause
If you find yourself in a situation of termination without cause, it’s essential not to sign any documents right away. Instead, seek legal advice promptly to initiate negotiations with your employer regarding your severance package. If initial negotiations do not yield a satisfactory outcome, the next step is to start legal proceedings against your employer for wrongful dismissal.
While your case progresses through the legal process, you can continue negotiating with your employer. During this phase, it’s crucial to consider the circumstances and your strategic needs, helping you determine the most appropriate court for filing your claim. One option is the Small Claims court.
When Should You Choose the Small Claims Court?
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice is the primary venue for civil claims, including cases where employees are terminated without cause. Initiating legal action through the Superior Court involves adhering to the Rules of Civil Procedure. Typically, an unsuccessful case in the Superior Court results in legal costs awarded against you, the employee.
However, if the damages sought for termination without cause are $35,000 or less, initiating your claim in the Small Claims court may be a more favorable option. The Small Claims court simplifies procedures, leading to quicker resolutions and reduced costs. It also sets clear limits on awards between parties.
It’s vital to be realistic about your severance entitlements. If your reasonable entitlements due to termination without cause amount to $35,000 or less, filing your claim with the Small Claims court is recommended. Failing to adhere to this general procedural rule could result in costs awarded against you, even in the event of a successful claim.
Dealing with wrongful termination can be financially challenging, and the Small Claims court’s procedures are designed to be accessible for self-representing parties, providing cost-effective solutions. Even if a party loses in the Small Claims court, cost awards are typically limited to 15% of the claim’s value, although this can vary.
If you are actively seeking employment and require swift severance entitlements to cover expenses, the Small Claims court offers a faster resolution compared to a standard civil court.
When an employer terminates you without cause and you believe your severance entitlements are insufficient, choosing the Small Claims court is a practical solution in specific circumstances:
- Your claim is valued at $35,000.00 or less.
- You are representing yourself and wish to minimize the risk of covering the employer’s legal costs if you lose.
- You seek a faster resolution.
Navigating the complexities of wrongful dismissal and severance entitlements requires informed decisions. Consult one of Achkar Law’s experienced employment and litigation lawyers to determine the best course of action tailored to your unique circumstances.
Contact Achkar Law
Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for assistance respecting terminations without cause or litigation, our team of experienced employment lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist.