Wrongful termination is a term used to define a situation when an employer ends an employee’s contract of employment, which violates one or more terms of the contract or a provision of law. It can also be called wrongful dismissal or wrongful discharge.
Being terminated for any of the following reasons may constitute wrongful termination:
1. Discrimination – An employee cannot be terminated on the basis of race, religion, age, gender and in some cases, even sexual orientation.
2. Retaliation – An employee involved in a discrimination suit whether by direct involvement of filing the suit or indirectly involved through an investigation not filed by that employee cannot be terminated.
3. An employer cannot terminate an employee who refuses to commit an illegal action.
4. An employer cannot terminate an employee without following the company procedure outlined in its policies or employee handbook.
Under Ontario employment law, terminating an employee without any good reason does not constitute wrongful dismissal. Generally, employers are allowed to terminate employees at any time provided that they give reasonable notice.
With respect to terms of employment, “reasonable notice” can be explained simply such that employers are not doing it for illegal reasons and they give the employee the right amount of time and money when they terminate the employee.
In a wrongful termination lawsuit, there are a number of factors that the court has to consider before making a decision whether the employment contract is legally determinative of the amount of reasonable notice that an employee is entitled to.
Both employer and employees should understand that not all contracts specify the amount of severance. At the same time, just because there is no written employment contract does not mean there was never an agreement between employer and employee.
When speaking about “notice of termination”, it is important to consider that the employee is given enough time upon which the employment will be terminated so that the loss of income is avoided or minimized. Ideally, the employee should have enough time to be able to find a new job before the contract is terminated.