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        Employment lawyers restricted to wrongful dismissal litigation
          Employment lawyers restricted to wrongful dismissal litigation

Toronto

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Employment lawyers restricted to wrongful dismissal litigation
Employment lawyers restricted to wrongful dismissal litigation

Tel: (416) 590-1900
Fax: (416) 590-1600

info@dumarkowitz.com

17th Floor, Yonge/Eglinton Centre
2300 Yonge Street
Suite 1750
Toronto, Ontario
M4P 1E4


"Work  is one of the most fundamental aspects in a person's life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society.  A person's employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being."

-- Chief Justice Dickson, in Reference re: Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alberta), [1987] 1 S.C.R. 313 (Supreme Court of Canada),
at page 368.

 

 

Attorney Howard Markowitz asks disgruntled employees:

Changing conditions of employment: Have you been “constructively dismissed” without knowing it?

It’s been said that the only people who like change are wet babies.  Yet what if your work conditions have deteriorated so badly that you now see no choice but to quit? 

Fortunately, courts have increasingly recognized this concept of “constructive dismissal” whereby distressed employees are still awarded “reasonable notice” damages despite fact they have not yet been formally dismissed by their usually underhanded employers.

More specifically, “constructive dismissal” damages may be awarded in circumstances where the employer - without acting explicitly to terminate your employment - acts unilaterally to change employment terms/conditions such that the employee is entitled to regard the employer’s conduct as a termination, and so bring an action for wrongful dismissal even though they have not yet been formally fired. 

According to principles set forth in Rubel Bronze & Metal Co. v. Vos, [1918] 1 K.B. 315:

Dismissal may be effected by conduct as well as words.  A man may dismiss his servant if he refuses by word or conduct to allow the servant to fulfil his contract of employment.  The refusal must of course be substantial in the sense that it is not a mere repudiation of some minor rights of the servant or of non-vital provisions of the contract of employment.  The question is ever one of degree.  If the conduct of the employer amounts to a basic refusal to continue the servant on the agreed terms of the employment, then there is at once a wrongful dismissal and a repudiation of the contract.  I see no distinction in such a case as the present between repudiation by the defendants of their contractual obligations and “a wrongful dismissal” in the ordinary sense of that phrase.

And so continues the expansion of “constructive dismissal” law to include employer harassment, material changes in job description, demotion, reduction in pay, and substantial change in geographic location of the job. 

In other words, if your employer tells you that he’s moving your three-window office to a broom-closet in your company’s South American subsidiary at one-third the pay - well, then you have yourself a pretty clear-cut claim for constructive dismissal and all reasonable notice pay consequences that flow.  Unfortunately, real-world scenarios are typically less clear-cut, on which basis employees suffering material changes to their employment terms/conditions are advised to seek immediate expert advice.

 
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