Employment Law Q&A for Employees & Contractors
Residents in the Greater Toronto Area get insights about terminations, dismissals, and other employment issues.
How we help +
Hi, I’m Kevin Marshall. My legal team cares deeply about the workforce because I grew up with hard working parents in the lower middle class and I myself spent many years working various blue collar and white collar jobs before starting my own legal practice 20 years ago.
This is why we always empathize with employees of all levels as well as with independent contractors. The goal of this page is to shed light on some of the most common legal questions people have about their employment situation, such as getting a sudden notice that you’re going to be fired, or even being terminated immediately without any notice at all.
IMPORTANT EMPLOYMENT LAW ISSUES
We also go over important employment issues such as the fairness of your termination package when you get fired, or what you can do if you’ve been fired for “cause.”
Less common but equally important legal problems are also covered, such as what happens when your long term disability benefits are cut off or what happens when your employer tries forcing you back to work when you're off sick.
OUR EMPLOYMENT LEGAL TEAM IS READY TO HELP YOU
We try to give you as much information on our website as we can for free, however there is only so much we can put out there, because every situation is different and we also don’t want to confuse people with information that may not be suitable for their exact situation. This is why after reading the info on our website, if you feel you still have more questions, please feel free to call us so we can talk about your unique legal employment situation.
WE UNDERSTAND YOUR EMPLOYERS TOO.
One of the best advantages you have working with us, is that unlike most law firms who help only employees or employers exclusively, we have experience helping both. Now, while we’d never help you and your employer at the same time (that’s illegal and unethical), we do still have a ton of experience and a strong understanding of how employers look at these kinds of legal issues, and what incentivises them to make decisions that favour employees like you.
Therefore, if you have an employment issue that you need legal help with, or you just want us to look over your employment contracts or other documents, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you.
1. My employer has given me written notice that I will be fired in a certain number of weeks. What can I do?
Don’t sign anything. Talk things over in confidence with someone you trust.
It will be difficult to return to work with the knowledge that you will be out of a job shortly. Take some time off if you need to. If you are having trouble coping or sleeping, see your doctor. When you return to work, ensure that your employer provides you with time off to look for another job.
Once things settle down at work, give us a call.
2. My employer has given me a letter terminating my job, effective immediately. What can I do?
DON’T SIGN ANYTHING (even if your employer is giving you a deadline of only a few days). Take a day (or the weekend) off to talk privately with a trusted friend or relative about your disappointment and frustration. You will be able to think more clearly. If you can't sleep after a few days, see a doctor.
Then get on with your life: Apply for Employment Insurance if it is available. Turn your mind to other job options (or returning to school, starting your own business or taking some time off). And speak to an employment law lawyer about the "package" your employer is offering.
3. How do I know that my employer is offering a fair termination package?
You don’t. By law, if you have been employed for at least 3 months, the minimum you are entitled to is one week’s pay per year of employment to a maximum of eight weeks. Many employers will offer the minimum, or slightly higher than the minimum. You can usually do better than that.
You are usually entitled to be paid in accordance with the “common law”. There is a widely-held view that the common law entitles you to one month’s pay per year of employment. In fact, this is rarely true.
The calculation of your entitlement under the common law is based on a variety of factors and cannot be determined with scientific precision. These factors include your age, level of responsibility in the company, ability to find alternative employment, length of employment and other possible factors.
Your best option is to meet with an employment law lawyer in person. Call me at 416-383-0550 to set up an appointment to determine whether you received a fair termination package or not.
4. My employer is firing me for “cause”. What can I do?
Your former employer is sending a signal to you that it is prepared to play hardball. It is not prepared to pay you anything beyond back wages and vacation pay (and sometimes delays paying even these). The good news is that the employer must prove its allegations of “cause”. However, in most cases, employers won’t allege cause unless they believe they can prove it.
Give me a call at 416-383-0550 for a legal opinion as to whether your employer is likely to succeed in proving “cause” or not.
5. Things at work have suddenly got worse for me in the past few weeks. What can I do?
It depends on what has changed. If your work conditions – such as hours of work, rate of pay, amount of benefits – have changed to your disadvantage without you receiving anything in return, you likely have grounds to pursue a claim for “constructive dismissal”. However, proceed cautiously, since your employer likely won’t reach the same conclusion. Therefore, you should take no action until you have spoken to us at 416-383-0550 or e-mailed us.
If you are being treated badly by a new co-worker or manager, your best course of action is to speak to your boss. If your boss is the source of the problem, speak to the boss of your boss. Put your concerns in writing if necessary. Be persistent, but always polite. Usually, employers will take action to resolve the problem. If not, or if the employer’s action is inadequate, give us a call.
6. I have been off work on Long Term Disability benefits. I have been notified that my benefits will be cut off. What can I do?
Call me to book an appointment as soon as possible. Bring any and all documents with you. We need to meet face to face to determine whether the Long Term Disability insurer has adequate grounds to terminate your benefits, or not.
7. I have been sick for a long time. My employer is demanding that I return to work or I will be fired. What can I do?
Speak to your family doctor immediately. Ask your family doctor if you should return to work. If your family doctor agrees you should not return to work, ask for a note confirming this and forward it to your employer. If your employer still demands you return to work, you should seek a legal opinion immediately. Call me at 416-383-0550.
If your doctor does believe you should return to work, it would be best if you follow his or her advice. If you strongly believe your doctor is wrong, get a second medical opinion.