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What is wrongful dismissal?

Region: Ontario Answer # 606

When can an employee be fired?

Contrary to what many people think, an employer can end a non-union employee’s job at any time, and for any reason. However, if you were fired, it is important to determine if you are entitled to notice or pay instead of notice, and severance pay.

What is wrongful dismissal?

If an employee is fired, the employer is required by law to give the employee a minimum amount of notice, or pay instead of notice, unless the employee was fired for willful misconduct or neglect of duty, which resulted in “just cause”. If an employee is not given proper notice or pay in lieu of notice, then, unless the employer had just cause, the employee is considered to have been wrongfully dismissed.

It is important to determine if you were wrongfully dismissed, because you may be entitled to a significant amount of money from your employer. Under the law, if your employer refuses to pay you what you are entitled to, then you have been wrongfully dismissed. However, if your employer gave you proper notice, or paid you all the money you were entitled to, it is not considered wrongful dismissal even if there was no cause for firing you.

If the employer had a good legal reason, or just cause, for firing you, then you are not entitled to notice or pay instead of notice, and you are not considered wrongfully dismissed.


What is ’cause’ for firing an employee?

An employee can be fired without proper notice if there was ’cause’, sometimes known as ‘just cause’. Cause for firing an employee may include:

  • an illegal act at the workplace, such as stealing or damaging property, or violent behaviour;
  • misrepresentation of important qualifications, such as saying you have a degree that you have not earned;
  • insubordination, such as refusing to do work assigned to you;
  • sexually harassing other employees;
  • constantly being late for work; and
  • fraud.

What is not ’cause’ for firing an employee?

Sometimes an employee does something wrong, but it is not a good legal reason to be fired without notice or pay. Reasons for firing an employee that are not cause under the law include:

  • if an employee does something minor and corrects the mistake;
  • if an employee’s work is not up to standard and the employer does nothing to address the problem;
  • if your employer does not like you;
  • if your employer discriminates against you because of your sex, race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation, unless permitted by law.

Get help

A criminal record will appear on an employment police check and will affect your ability to get or keep a job. To erase your criminal record, learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been wrongfully dismissed from work due to an injury, or cannot return to work due to an injury, or are involved in any other type of employment dispute and require legal advice and assistance, contact our preferred paralegals Nicola (Nick) Giannantonio Legal Services. .  They offer a free consultation and do not charge up-front fees.

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