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Glossary of Terms

 

Wrongful Dismissal
Reasonable Notice
Severance package
Fiduciary
Release
Employment Contract
Constructive Dismissal
Sexual Harassment
Duty to accommodate
Workplace harassment
Just Cause

Wrongful Dismissal
In general, an employer is permitted to terminate an employee’s employment without just cause by providing the employee with notice of termination (or compensation instead of this notice.) If an employer does not provide adequate notice of termination then the employee has been wrongfully dismissed. For further information on our wrongful dismissal practice, click here

Reasonable Notice
If an employee is terminated without just cause and the employee has not agreed to accept a specific amount of notice of termination then he or she is entitled to receive “reasonable notice” of termination. At a minimum, Ontario courts generally consider the employees, age, position, length of service, and the availability of alternative employment given the person’s education and experience. For further information on our wrongful dismissal practice, click here

Just Cause
Just cause is a legal term that means an employer is justified in terminating an employee and not providing any notice of termination (or termination pay). When determining whether an employer has just cause, a court will consider two main questions; namely, (1) whether the employer has proven employee misconduct; and (2) whether the nature and degree of the misconduct is sufficient to dismiss the employee without notice. For further information on our wrongful dismissal practice, click here

Severance package
A severance package is an agreement between an employee and an employer concerning all issues that arise out of an employee termination. There is no standard severance package however the package usually addresses any compensation owed as of the last day of employment, termination pay, and a release. A severance package can also provide for employee references, benefit continuation, outplacement counseling, legal fees and any other issue of mutual interest. For further information on severance packages, click here

Release
Usually an employer should insist that an employee sign a release before providing the employee with any termination pay in excess of the employee’s entitlement under any employment contract or the minimum requirements under Ontario’s Employment Standard Act. Under the terms of a release the employee, among other things, agrees not commence any legal proceedings, including a wrongful dismissal action, against the employer in connection with the termination of the employment relationship. For further information on our wrongful dismissal practice, click here

Employment Contract
An employment contract is an agreement specifying the terms and conditions under which a person agrees to be employed by an employer. These terms and conditions of employment can be specified in writing, agreed upon orally, and/or implied by the courts. For further information on our employment contract practice, click here

Constructive Dismissal
A constructive dismissal occurs when an employer makes a unilateral and fundamental change to a term or condition of an employment contract without providing reasonable notice of that change to the employee. Such action amounts to a repudiation of the contract of employment by the employer whether or not he intended to continue the employment relationship. Therefore, the employee can treat the contract as wrongfully terminated and resign which, in turn, gives rise to an obligation on the employer’s part to provide damages in lieu of reasonable notice. For further information on our wrongful & constructive dismissal practice, click here

Sexual Harassment
Every Ontario employee has a right to freedom from harassment in the workplace because of sex and “harassment” means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. Vexatious has been interpreted to mean the comment or conduct is annoying, distressing or agitating to the person complaining, or the applicant finds the comments and conduct worrisome, discomfiting and demeaning. For further information on our human rights practice, click here

Duty to accommodate
Every person in Ontario has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without discrimination because of, among other things, disability. An employer is required to accommodate an employee’s disability. “The substantive duty to accommodate requires the employer to make the modifications or provide the accommodation necessary (short of undue hardship) in order to allow an employee with Code-related needs to participate fully in the workplace. …” For further information on our human rights practice, click here

Workplace harassment
Under Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act, “workplace harassment” means engaging in a course of vexatious comment or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. For further information on our occupational health & safety practice, click here

Fiduciary
Whether a person is a fiduciary is a matter of fact. Generally, high echelon managers and directors of an organization owe their employer a fiduciary obligation that transcends their implied duty of fidelity as a regular employee. Key employees can be fiduciaries. Non-managerial personnel can be fiduciaries. A fiduciary has an obligation of loyalty, good faith, honesty and avoidance of conflict of duty and self-interest.  A fiduciary must act honestly, in good faith and with a view to advancing the employer’s best interests.   Fiduciary employees cannot enter into engagements in which they have a personal interest that conflict with anything the employer does, or realistically may do, without first making full disclosure and obtaining the employer’s consent. A fiduciary employee is not relieved of his/her fiduciary duties if the business opportunity sought to further his/her own ends is one that the employer would have been unwilling or incapable of exploiting. For more information on your rights and obligations as a fiduciary, click here

 The MacLeod Law Firm has been practicing labour and employment law for over 20 years. Through our offices in Toronto and Barrie, we would be happy to help.

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