Employment Law Kingston
Perhaps one of the most important contracts you will enter into during your lifetime is your employment contract. This does not need to be a formal document citing your rights and responsibilities. Rather, the relationship between you and your employer is deemed to be a type of employment contract.
In order to be dismissed for “just cause” your employer needs to meet a fairly high standard. For example, an act of dishonesty may or may not be considered “just cause” for the purpose of terminating your employment. In McKinley v. BC Tel, 2001 SCC 38 the Supreme Court of Canada noted that “just cause for dismissal exists where the dishonesty violates an essential condition of the employment contract, breaches the faith inherent to the work relationship, or is fundamentally or directly inconsistent with the employee’s obligations to his or her employer”. Emphasis added.
Even if there is no “just cause” an employer may still be at liberty to terminate your employment contract as long as they provide adequate notice or pay-in-lieu of notice. When determining how much notice is appropriate the court will look to the Employment Standards Act as well as the common law (judge made law). A judge may or may not award you more than the minimum entitlement in the Employment Standards Act and if they do, they will look at factors such as your age, your level of education, the position you held, and your salary at the date of termination.
In addition to being dismissed with “just cause” or “without cause” you can also be constructively dismissed. This is a tricky area of law as you are required to prove that there has been a significant change in your employment that makes it almost impossible to continue working. Constructive dismissal claims usually relate to issues such as abusive behaviour by a superior, a drastic change in salary, or some other key component of your employment relationship. Constructive dismissal claims are extremely complex and legal advice should always be sought before leaving your employment on the grounds of “constructive dismissal”.