Termination of Employment

employees duty to mitigate
Photo by João Ferrão on Unsplash

Employees who have been wrongfully dismissed from their employment have a legal duty to mitigate. In other words, these employees must look for new employment if they wish to seek a termination payment from their former employers. Regardless of whether an employee successfully secures new employment prior to the end of their notice period, the court will still look to see that the employee took reasonable steps to find alternative comparable employment. If the court is not satisfied that the employee has made proper efforts to do so, it may reduce or deny the termination pay the former employer would otherwise be ordered to pay to the employee. A recent decision, Lake v. La Presse (2018) Inc., 2021 ONSC 3506, underlines the repercussions an employee could face if they fail to take such reasonable steps to mitigate their damages.

The Case of Lake v. La Presse (2018) Inc.

In this 2021 Ontario Superior Court case, the Court reduced a former employee’s common law/reasonable notice period from eight to six months due to the employee’s failure to mitigate their damages. 
Continue Reading Failure to Mitigate and Reduction of the Notice Period

mandatory workplace vaccine policies
Photo by Braňo on Unsplash

Last week, the federal government announced that it will be making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and also for those working in some federally regulated industries related to travel. You can read the news release here.

The government intends to require vaccinations for federal employees by the end of September. It projects that vaccinations will be required in the federally regulated transportation sector (airlines, rail, cruise ships) by the end of October. The requirement will also apply to travellers.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada — which is the union representing the majority of impacted workers —  is apparently on board with this move.
Continue Reading The Start of Mandatory Vaccinations in Canada?

reasonable termination notice
Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash

How much notice should you give your employee on termination? A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Herreros v Glencore Canada reiterates that when calculating the period of reasonable notice owed to a wrongfully dismissed employee, it is the circumstances at the time of termination that matter. 

The rule comes from a decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Holland v Hostopia.com. It states: “Notice is to be determined by the circumstances existing at the time of termination and not by the amount of time that it takes the employee to find employment”. We blogged about the rule here and here in our updates about employment litigation during the pandemic. 
Continue Reading Reasonable Notice: An Opportunity Not A Guarantee

IDEL and Constructive Dismissal
Photo by Melody Ayres-Griffiths on Unsplash

The Ontario Superior Court has ruled once again on the right of an employee to assert a constructive dismissal in light of the O. Reg. 228/20: Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (“the Regulation”) under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). In the latest decision, the court ruled that the Regulation does not preclude an employee from asserting a common law constructive dismissal. 

As discussed in previous posts, under the Regulation neither a reduction in the employees hours of work or wages constitute a constructive dismissal under the ESA if they occur during the COVID-19 Period. The COVID-19 Period keeps changing on us, but it currently runs from March 1, 2020 to September 25, 2021.  There have been conflicting decisions about whether the Regulation also removes an employee’s right to assert a constructive dismissal under the common law. 
Continue Reading Another Ruling on the IDEL and the Employee’s Right to Pursue Common Law Constructive Dismissal

severance and employer payroll threshold
Photo by John McArthur on Unsplash

A new ruling from Ontario’s Divisional Court has changed which employees will be entitled to severance pay. While the law has been mixed, it was generally the case that the $2.5 million payroll threshold for the purposes of calculating severance pay applied to Ontario payroll only. The Divisional Court has now ruled that global payroll should be considered. 

What’s Severance Pay?

In Ontario, employers with a payroll of more than $2.5 million must, upon termination or severance of employment, pay severance pay to employees with five or more years of service. This aspect of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) increases the legal minimums employers are required to pay to long service employees significantly. Under the ESA, notice of termination caps out at 8 weeks, whereas severance pay can be up to 26 weeks. 
Continue Reading Heads up Multinational Employers! A Change to the $2.5 Million Payroll Threshold Calculation.

IDEL and constructive dismissalsLast month we blogged about the  Ontario Superior Court’s decision in Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd. (Coutinho) when the court ruled that an employee placed on Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL), established by O.Reg 228/20 (the Regulation), could still bring an action for constructive dismissal at common law. The plot has thickened with the release this month of a contradictory decision in Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc. (Taylor).

In the Taylor decision, the court considered the same issue – is the employee precluded by the Regulation from bringing a claim for constructive dismissal under the common law, when their hours are reduced or eliminated as a result of the pandemic? While the court in Coutinho concluded no, the court in Taylor has concluded yes. 

Where does that leave us? Because these two decisions are from the same level of court, neither has more weight than the other for later judges who might be deciding cases on similar facts. When decisions of the same level conflict, we need a higher court to weigh in – in this case, that would be the Ontario Court of Appeal. 
Continue Reading Good News for Employers: A New Decision On Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

The COVID-19 Period in Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave has been extended until September 25, 2021. Prior to this change, the COVID-19 Period was set to end on July 3, 2021. 

What does the end of the COVID-19 Period mean?

The end of the COVID-19 Period is relevant to employers who reduced the hours of their employees due to COVID-19 reasons. In many cases, these employees were “laid off,” meaning they work no hours at all. 

Typically, a layoff can only last for a specific number of weeks. The introduction of the “deemed IDEL” and the extension of the COVID-19 Period have made it possible for these employees to remain off work/laid off for much longer, without a termination being triggered. 

If you were an employer keeping the July 3, 2021 end date in mind, you can forget that and add September 25, 2021 to your calendar.
Continue Reading IDEL COVID-19 Period Extended to September 25, 2021

pregnant employee notice periodIn the case of Nahum v. Honeycomb Hospitality Inc., the employer, Honeycomb Hospitality, terminated their Director of People and Culture, Sarah Nahum when she was five months pregnant. 

Entitlement to Notice of Termination

The notice period is intended to bridge a terminated employee to their new position. Courts consider the employee’s age, length of service and the character of their employment when determining what notice period is appropriate. 

Ms. Nahum had been with Honeycomb for just four and a half months. She was 28 years old and made $80,000 per year. She was terminated without cause, did not have a valid contract governing her termination entitlements, and therefore was entitled to notice in accordance with the common law. 

Honeycomb argued that an appropriate notice period for Ms. Nahum was two months.  
Continue Reading How Does Being Pregnant Impact an Employee’s Notice Period?

Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

At long last, the impact of Ontario’s Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) on employee constructive dismissal claims has been litigated. Employment lawyers have been speculating for a long while about how courts will treat the various employment pivots employers were required to make during the pandemic. We now have our first answer. 

Last week, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd. and ruled that the IDEL does not take away an employee’s ability to sue for constructive dismissal. 

What’s Constructive Dismissal?

A constructive dismissal occurs when an employer unilaterally and substantially changes an express or implied term of the employee’s contract. The term also needs to have been essential. Changes regarding pay, duties, hours of work etc., can all potentially be constructive dismissals. 
Continue Reading An Important Ruling for Employers on Constructive Dismissal and the IDEL

SpringLaw is 4!!!!  To celebrate our 4-year anniversary, thank our clients and welcome non-client businesses who are looking for a new way to receive legal services, we are pleased to offer The 444 Toolkit.

The 444 Toolkit is a collection of our most highly sought-after resources our clients ask for every day:

  • 4 core legal templates
  • 4 of our most popular workplace law guides
  • 4 helpful checklists

If you are a small business owner, looking to update your core legal docs and needing some guidance to navigate this ongoing rollercoaster of the pandemic, this workplace law toolkit is for you!

THIS IS A DEEPLY DISCOUNTED, TIME-LIMITED OFFER!
Continue Reading The 444 Employment Law Toolkit