Wrongful Dismissal Compensation and the Short-term Employee

Wrongful Dismissal Compensation and the Short-term Employee

Short-term employees facing termination often assume they are not entitled to an extended notice period. However, this is not always accurate, even with their brief tenure.

Employers may be held accountable for wrongful dismissal compensation if they fail to provide sufficient notice upon termination without cause. This holds true regardless of the employee’s tenure. When a former employee seeks additional notice period pay, the length of their employment becomes a crucial factor in determining reasonable notice.

This article looks into the criteria for considering a dismissal as wrongful, how to calculate reasonable notice, and clarifies that a short-term employee’s notice pay should not automatically be reduced solely due to their shorter tenure.

What is a Wrongful Dismissal?

In Ontario, employers have the right to terminate an employee without cause at any time, with limited exceptions. Termination without cause occurs when an employee is let go without having committed any wrongdoing.

However, termination without cause can lead to a wrongful dismissal if the employer fails to provide sufficient reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. Reasonable notice can take the form of working notice leading up to the termination date, pay instead of notice, or a combination of both.

Wrongful dismissal can also arise when an employee is terminated for cause without the employer having legal justification for such action. If an employer lacks just cause, the employee may be entitled to reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. It is essential to note that proving just cause can be a challenging task for employers in a court setting.

How To Calculate Your Reasonable Notice Entitlements

Understanding how to calculate your reasonable notice entitlements is crucial for employees navigating terminations. The determination of ‘reasonable notice’ or total ‘severance pay‘ is case-specific, leading to uncertainty for employees seeking their termination compensation. Consulting with an wrongful dismissal lawyer is advisable for personalized legal advice.

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) outlines statutory minimum entitlements for terminated employees. Generally, an employee’s maximum statutory entitlements to working notice, pay in lieu of notice, or a combination of both under ESA is 34 weeks.

In cases without an enforceable termination clause in the employment agreement, employees may seek common law reasonable notice upon termination. This includes ESA entitlements but can extend up to 26 months’ pay.

Several factors, including age, years of service, job position, previous compensation, economic climate, industry, and other relevant considerations, influence the length of reasonable notice. Determining entitlements is an art, not a science. Prior to accepting a severance offer or negotiating with your employer, consult with an employment lawyer to understand your legal entitlements and explore your options for the next steps.

Exploring the Impact of Short Service on Reasonable Notice

As previously discussed, the duration of an employee’s service with their former employer is a key factor in determining severance compensation. Even if employees with 3 months or less of service may not qualify for certain entitlements under the Employment Standards Act (ESA), they may still be eligible for common law reasonable notice.

While years of service are a crucial factor, a court considers various elements to determine the appropriate amount of reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. Factors such as age, job position, and other relevant considerations may justify an extension of reasonable notice, even for employees with short tenure.

For instance, an employee working for only 2 months may be granted 6 months of reasonable notice if they are in their 60s and held a senior executive position. In such cases, advanced age and a high-level executive role can foreseeably make it challenging to find a comparable job. The short duration of employment is relevant but not the sole determinant of reasonable notice compensation.

Calculating entitlements after termination without cause is intricate. While a wrongful dismissal claim for short tenure may result in a 3-month reasonable notice entitlement, other claims, such as seeking lost wages through a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing or general damages via a Human Rights claim, may provide larger compensation.

A wrongful dismissal lawyer plays a crucial role in determining compensation, negotiating severance, and guiding through legal proceedings. Whether your tenure was short or long, consulting with an wrongful dismissal lawyer promptly after termination is essential to understand your rights and explore potential avenues for damages.


Understanding your rights and compensation in the face of termination is not always a straight-forward process. Factors such as length of service, age, and job position play crucial roles in determining reasonable notice and severance pay. While the Employment Standards Act provides a framework, the complexities of common law rights require careful consideration.

Whether you are a short-term employee or have dedicated years to your workplace, seeking legal guidance is essential. Remember, your employment journey does not end with termination; it is an opportunity to secure the best possible outcome. Take the first step toward understanding and asserting your rights by reaching out to an experienced wrongful dismissal lawyer today.

Contact Achkar Law

If you have questions or concerns about wrongful dismissal in Ontario, our experienced legal team at Achkar Law is here to help. Contact us today for personalized advice tailored to your situation. Don’t navigate employment challenges alone — schedule a consultation and explore your rights with confidence

Toll-free: 1 (800) 771-7882
Email: [email protected]

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