law suit

What grounds can I use to start a lawsuit if I lose my job?

Losing a job is undoubtedly one of the most stressful situations that a human being can go through, not only because of the economic impact but also the psychological impact that it has on both the person who lost their job and their family.


Having lost your job might make you seem helpless since it is a situation that you may feel unable to control. However, exploring and being aware of the options you have is extremely important. One thing to always keep in mind is to not let your emotions obstruct the opportunity to explore what options you have to sue your employer in case you consider that you have been fired without just cause or if you have experienced some type of discrimination or mistreatment which led to you losing your job. 


What can you sue your previous employer for after losing your job? This article presents some options:


Wrongful dismissal


When an employer has decided to terminate an employee, they are required to provide reasonable notice or appropriate severance pay in lieu of notice. When it does not occur, it is known as wrongful dismissal and the employee can now sue their employer and demand compensation in lieu of reasonable notice. 


Generally speaking, by common law employers have the right to terminate the contract at any time as long as reasonable notice is provided. For example, if an employer has simply decided they no longer want the employee to work for them, they may dismiss them as long as they provide the employee with a severance pay sufficient to cover pay in lieu of notice. If they make such payments, the termination will not be considered wrongful dismissal. 


It is important to keep in mind that an employer’s decision to terminate an employee must be lawful, which means if you were dismissed for discriminatory reasons then this will be a breach of the Ontario Humans Rights Code, to which we will turn next. 


Human rights violations


Most often, employees put up with some kind of workplace discrimination or harassment until their relationship with the employer ends. Once this occurs, they file a claim seeking some kind of compensation due to the discrimination they encountered while being employed. Another example of a human rights claim is one that arises due to the way the employment termination occurred.  Here are some examples where termination could be considered discriminatory:


  1. An employee is terminated due to conflicts with other employees despite existing evidence which indicates that the employee’s behaviors were caused due to discriminatory actions from the other employees. 
  2. An employee from a specific country outside Canada has performed well in the job, but recently their performance dropped, after which she is suddenly dismissed without notice. She alleges that her employer had racist attitudes towards her nationality. If the employee raises this issue to the employer, the employer must conduct an investigation and prevent discrimination from happening again. In the event that the investigation is not done, or the employer chooses to fire the employee despite having the knowledge as to why their performance has decreased, this could be considered discrimination. 
  3. The company you work for is laying off employees, and you notice that they lay off all the women that have returned from maternity leave, as they consider that women with small children need more time off. 


Constructive dismissal


Constructive dismissal is when your employer has not directly terminated your employment but has changed and/or breached the terms of your contract, to the extent to which you can conclude that you’ve been dismissed. Here are some examples of what constitutes constructive dismissal:


  1. The employer creates a toxic work environment 
  2. The employer makes changes to the employee’s duties, and the job title takes away responsibilities
  3. Employer unilaterally decides to modify the employees’ work hours, from full-time to part-time


If you are under the impression that your employer has breached your contract in a way, and you fail to challenge the breach the employer made, it may be assumed that you have accepted the changes made by the employer which could jeopardize your claim for constructive dismissal. It is reasonable to understand that the situation you might be going through is not tolerable so it would be extremely important that if you wish to resign you indicate that the reason why you are resigning is due to the fact that you considered yourself constructively dismissed. 


Breach of contract


In situations where an employee is offered or promised something under their employment contract for example a specific wage or a fixed term of employment and the employer fails to comply, the employee may have a claim for breach of contract. A breach of contract claim generally will be for the difference between what the employee was offered in comparison to what they actually received.  




Losing your job is a stressful situation and it is important to understand the available options you may have especially in situations where you feel your rights have been violated, either because you felt discriminated, you felt you were fired without reasonable notice, you feel forced to quit as you feel your employment conditions have changed or there has been a breach in the terms of your employment. 


Seeking legal advice or a consultation with an employment lawyer is a prudent first step to making a claim for termination entitlements. Only after speaking with a lawyer can a terminated employee consider the available claims and their strengths. 




If you have any questions about termination entitlements, our team of experienced employment and human rights 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 will be happy to assist.