October 4, 2016

The law of wrongful dismissal in Canada has a direct impact on contemporary employment relationships. For this reason, it is important that lawyers, employers, and employees stay up-to-date on key developments in the field. In this audio conference, join seasoned counsel as they discuss ten recent significant wrongful dismissal cases and their implications for workplace parties.

Just cause for dismissal

  • Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (Supreme Court of Canada): Following the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in Wilson, can federally-regulated, non-unionized, employees be dismissed only for just cause? When will employers under federal jurisdiction be required to reinstate wrongfully dismissed employees? What are some of the anticipated consequences of Wilson for employers and employees?
  • Fernandes v. Peel Educational & Tutorial Services Limited (Mississauga Private School) (Ontario Court of Appeal): When will the falsification of an employer’s records amount to just cause for dismissal? What about dishonesty during the course of an investigation? What factors will decision-makers take into consideration in such instances to determine whether the employee’s misconduct has given rise to a breakdown in the employment relationship?
  • Ross v. IBM Canada Limited (Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench): Does dishonest conduct and breach of company policy justify an employee’s discharge in all cases? What about time theft? What aggravating and mitigating factors will decision-makers consider in such wrongful dismissal cases?

Constructive dismissal

  • Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services (Supreme Court of Canada): When will an administrative (non-disciplinary) suspension of a non-unionized employee constitute constructive dismissal? Does it make a difference if the suspension is for an indefinite versus defined period of time? When will the courts consider a suspension to have been imposed in good faith and for a “legitimate business reason”?
  • Kucera v. Qulliq Energy Corporation (Nunavut Court of Appeal): When will interpersonal conflicts in the workplace be sufficient to support a claim of constructive dismissal? Can a letter claiming constructive dismissal and threatening legal action constitute an employee’s repudiation of an employment contract?

Reasonable notice

  • Michela v. St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School (Ontario Court of Appeal): Are an employer’s financial circumstances relevant to the calculation of reasonable notice? What if the employer is experiencing financial difficulties at the date of dismissal? What if the employer is experiencing a period of profit and expansion?

Fixed term contracts

  • Howard v. Benson Group Inc. (Ontario Court of Appeal): Under what circumstances will a fixed term employment agreement displace the common law presumption of reasonable notice? Is an employee obligated to mitigate his or her damages if a fixed term contract is terminated early?

Fiduciary duties

  • Unique Broadband Systems, Inc. (Re) (Ontario Court of Appeal): What fiduciary obligations do senior employees owe to their employer? How will the breach of such fiduciary duties impact bonus and other contractual compensation entitlements?

Mitigation of damages

  • Fredrickson v. Newtech Dental Laboratory Inc. (British Columbia Court of Appeal): When will an employee be obligated to accept an offer of re-employment from a former employer in order to mitigate damages? What test will the courts apply in such cases? What contextual factors will decision-makers consider in determining whether an employee is required to accept an offer of re-employment?

Aggravated damages

  • Strudwick v. Applied Consumer & Clinical Evaluations (Ontario Court of Appeal) and Karmel v. Calgary Jewish Academy (Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench): In addition to reasonable notice, when will aggravated damages be awarded to employees who have been wrongfully dismissed? What factors will decision-makers consider when calculating an award of aggravated damages? Harm to an employee’s reputation or mental health? The deliberate nature of an employer’s conduct? The amount of damages sought in an employee’s statement of claim? How do aggravated damages differ from punitive damages and what is the relationship between the two?