September 11, 2023
All good things must come to an end, including our jobs. Sometimes that happens because a fixed-term contract expires. Some employees retire. But some are terminated. In Ontario, if you are terminated without cause, you are entitled to compensation from your employer. The Employment Standards Act provides minimums. Common law provides amounts that are usually higher. A written contract of employment must exceed the minimums but otherwise is negotiable. And sometimes, those terms, or even common law calculations, can lead to disagreement between parties.
Your employer terminates you without cause. They offer you a generous settlement package, but only if you sign a release preventing you from seeking what you really think they ought to pay you. If you do not sign the release, they will pay you about one-quarter of that generous offer and force you to sue for more.
What do you do?
The Ontario Court of Appeal has your back. In Maynard v. Johnson Controls Canada LP, the court says that “it was not open to Johnson Controls to attempt to force Mr. Maynard to sign a release that was not calculated properly…”.
Mr. Maynard was forced to not only go to court but to appeal. Ultimately, his position on the interpretation of the disputed provisions of the contract was upheld.
- Hopefully, cases like this make it easier for both employers and employees to avoid having to go to court.
- Termination without cause should be as painless as possible.
- In this decision, it appears that Johnson Controls was not subject to paying “moral damages” for the manner in which they treated Mr. Maynard, but now that the message about the treatment of employees has been clearly sent, in future cases, employees may receive additional compensation for the distress of living with uncertainty when not offered what they are entitled to.
- Courts continue to recognize that even a senior employee like Mr. Maynard is vulnerable compared to the employer, and thus, they bend the law to favour employees. Though this case did not require much bending- it was simply common sense.
- Employees should always seek legal advice before signing a release of their rights- you are entitled to know what those rights are.
- Employers should also obtain advice to make sure that they understand how their contract applies to the particular facts of a specific dismissal.
WHAT WEILERS LLP CAN DO FOR YOU
Whether you are an employer or a dismissed employee, the growing complexity of the rules surrounding dismissal requires that you obtain timely advice. This applies even where you have a written employment agreement.
At Weilers LLP, we have a track record of over 75 years in employment law in Thunder Bay and throughout Northwestern Ontario. Our progressive approach melds with this proud tradition to put our clients’ best interests first. This equips us to give you the sound advice you need.
For the timely advice you need, give us a call, and find out if Weilers LLP are the right lawyers for you.