The Employment Law Show

5 Common Employment Law terms | Employment Law Show TV – S7 E19

Episode Summary

5 COMMON EMPLOYMENT LAW TERMS, let go due to harassment, hours reduced, and more on Season 7 Episode 19 of the Employment Law Show with employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, Partner at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Watch above to discover your workplace rights and learn everything you need to know about employment law in Ontario and British Columbia, on the only employment law show on both TV and radio in Canada.

Episode Notes

Seniority after a company is sold

I worked at a small retail company for over 12 years. It was sold to a new owner and I was kept on. After 3 years, I’m now being let go but only given 3 weeks severance pay. Is this right?

  • Years of service of an employee: In the event, a company is sold to a new owner, and employees are kept on, employees should be aware of their continued years of service. Before signing an employment contract, employees should seek legal advice in order to ensure their rights are protected. The years of service of an employee should be inherited by the purchaser. A new employment contract could restrict future rights, particularly those of severance if terminated.

Severance package including company phone and car

After 10 years my spouse was laid off. During his employment, his phone was paid for and he also had a company vehicle. He’s been offered a severance package but I’m not sure if it’s adequate

  • Severance packages for terminated employees: Employers cannot place employees on a layoff without their consent. Employees can treat their employment as terminated and pursue their severance entitlements. Severance packages must include all components of compensation and not just a base salary. Bonuses, commissions, a car allowance, etc., must also be accounted for if an employee is let go.

Definition of Wrongful Dismissal

Is it considered a wrongful dismissal if my employer did not provide a valid reason for firing me? I was told I was let go due to financial difficulties, but I recently saw an ad for my position.

  • Wrongful dismissals: Employees often mistakenly believe they cannot be terminated without a legitimate reason. In reality, employers are within their rights to terminate employees for any reason as long as it is not discriminatory, and adequate severance is offered. Employers do not have to provide employees with a reason if they have been terminated.

5 Common Employment Law Terms

  • Independent/Dependent Contractor: A contractor is not an employee and is in business for themselves. A contractor will have various customers and clients, manage their own expenses, and runs their own business. Employees are often mistakenly classified as independent contractors and miss out on vital employment rights. In order to determine whether or not they have been misclassified, individuals should consider whether they are in business for themselves or someone else.
  • Wrongful Dismissal: A wrongful dismissal occurs when an employee has been terminated without being offered adequate severance pay. Many employees mistakenly believe a wrongful dismissal occurs due to the reason for termination.
  • Working Notice: An employer is within their rights to provide an employee with a “working notice of termination“. Rather than offering a severance package, employers can offer advance notice to employees. During this period of time, employees will continue to work. Often, employers do not provide sufficient notice to employees and have to offer additional severance pay.
  • Common Law: Employees’ true rights and entitlements are derived from the “common law”. Common law is a source of legal rights established by the courts and judges across the country for many years. Employees should always look to their common law entitlements, rather than simply legislation.
  • Temporary Layoff: A temporary layoff occurs when an employer suspends an employee’s employment for a period of time, with the intention to recall that employee at a later date. Employees do not have to accept being placed on a temporary layoff by their employer and can treat the layoff as a termination of employment. Employees should be wary of accepting an initial temporary layoff, as it could permit their employer to implement another layoff in the future.

Terminated due to validating harassment complaint

I witnessed verbal workplace harassment between a co-worker and my employer. After validating the co-worker’s complaints, I was let go.

  • Resolving harassment at the workplace: Employers are obligated to provide a safe work environment free from harassment and bullying for all employees. Employers must adequately address and investigate all complaints of harassment voiced by staff. An employee cannot be penalized or terminated for protecting their own rights, or that of a co-worker. Penalizing an employee for voicing complaints is considered a reprisal, and could be a human rights violation.

Hours reduced to part-time

I was working in a small tech company for about 3 years. My hours dropped from full-time to part-time. Eventually, I was let go and offered 3 weeks’ severance pay.

  • Changes made to the position by an employer: Employers do not have the ability to impose major changes to an employee’s job, such as a drastic cut in hours, pay, relocation, etc. Employees do not have to accept an initial change imposed by their employer. A major change can lead to constructive dismissal. Part-time employees are still entitled to severance upon termination.

Terminated despite struggling with mental illness

I was let go with 2 weeks’ pay and told it was due to a poor work ethic. My boss was aware that I was suffering from an ongoing mental illness and failed to offer any real support through that period.

  • Accommodating an employee: Employers are obligated to provide accommodation to employees with an illness or medical condition. Employees that are struggling at the workplace due to health reasons should provide their employer with a doctor’s note detailing their restrictions. A failure to provide accommodation to an employee is considered a human rights violation.

NEXT EPISODE: Employment Law Show S8 E01 – What you should know about workplace investigations

PREVIOUS EPISODE: Employment Law Show S7 E18 – Common myths about terminations

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