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Constructive Dismissal: Know Your Rights

Constructive Dismissal
Stressed Man

A Constructive Dismissal in Ontario is where an employer decides unilaterally to make substantial changes to the essential terms of a non-union employee’s contract of employment and the employee does not agree to the changes and leaves his or her job, the employee has not resigned, but has been dismissed. The departure of the employee will not be considered to be a resignation but, instead, will be a Constructive Dismissal.


In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada further expanded the the scope of a Constructive dismissal in the case of Potter v New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission. A Constructive Dismissal can also arise when it can be shown, based on the employer’s actions, that the employer did not intend to be bound by the employment agreement.

What are examples of Constructive Dismissals?

  • reducing the employee’s compensation or failing to pay an employee;

  • demotion of the employee; 

  • reducing the employee’s job responsibilities;

  • requiring the employee to move to a different geographic location;

  • requiring the employee to work in an environment whereby they are being harassed or discriminated against;

  • laying off the employee.  At common law, an employer does not have an automatic right to lay off a non-unionized employee unless they satisfy an exception.

Have you been Constructively Dismissed? Gilbert Barristers & Solicitors is here to assist you during this difficult time. Our team of trial lawyers will put you and your rights first. We will fight for a fair and just settlement. 


We provide free consultations for Constructive Dismissal related employment issues by calling us at 1-866-720-2245 or completing this form.

Can my employer just lay me off?

Short answer is no. A layoff is a Constructive Dismissal, unless the employee's contract expressly provides for it, you are Unionized, the employee agrees to being laid off, or an employee that entered into their employment contract with the anticipation of being laid off occasionally, such as a seasonal worker. In order to effectively answer the questions, we would need to review your individual circumstances.


If you have questions, we provide free consultations for Wrongful Dismissal related employment issues by calling us at 1-866-720-2245 or completing this form.

Can my employer reduce my pay or hours ?

Unless the employment contract expressly provides for a reduction in hours or pay, then an employer cannot reduce your hours or shifts. Courts have found that a 14-17% decrease in pay or hours can be construed as a Constructive Dismissal.


With an employee’s consent, an employer can reduce an employees hours or pay. If your employer has reduced your hours or your pay, it is important to seek professional legal advise from an employment lawyer

If you have questions, we provide free consultations for Constructive Dismissal related employment issues by calling us at 1-866-720-2245 or completing this form.

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