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Fired or laid off

Introduction

The Employment Standards Act sets out rules that non-union employers must follow when firing an employee, such as reasonable advance notice that your job will be ending or paying you the money you would have earned if you had been given the required notice. If you feel you have been fired without being given reasonable notice or pay instead of notice, or if you feel you have been fired unfairly, the Ministry of Labour can help you to enforce your rights. Another option would be to sue your employer in court for wrongful dismissal.

  • If your employer gives you reasonable notice or pays you termination pay instead of notice, he or she is usually allowed to end your job at any time without giving you a reason
  • If you are fired for cause, meaning you did something wrong (serious misconduct), you may not have a right to termination pay – however, if your employer cannot prove the alleged cause, he or she must give you termination pay
  • Serious misconduct can include theft, dishonesty, insubordination, persistent lateness or absenteeism, sexual harassment and intoxication
  • There are complicated rules about what is legal “cause” for termination—get legal advice if you are fired for cause
  • The longer you work at a job, the longer your reasonable notice period should be or the more termination pay you should get
  • If you are owed termination pay, you can either make a claim for wrongful dismissal in court or complain to the Ministry of Labour—you cannot do both
  • Usually you can get more termination pay by suing for termination pay in court, but the court process is more complex and can result in costs being awarded against you if you lose
  • If you have been fired due to discrimination, you can make a human rights complaint
  • There are time limits for taking legal action if you have been wrongfully dismissed:
    • 6 months from the date you were fired to make a Ministry of Labour complaint
    • 1 year from the discrimination to make a human rights complaint
    • 2 years from the date you were fired for a wrongful dismissal action in court
  • You may also be entitled to severance pay under certain conditions

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to wrongful dismissal.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about wrongful dismissal
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on how to make a wrongful dismissal complaint or sue your employer for wrongful dismissal.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about wrongful dismissal.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites.

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009