Constructive Dismissal, Wrongful Dismissal, Employment Lawyer – Explained

An employment lawyer, a constructive dismissal lawyer, and a wrongful dismissal lawyer are all specialized legal professionals within the field of employment law, each focusing on different aspects of employer-employee relationships and disputes.

In this article, we’ll differentiate the three so you have a better understanding of what each legal professional can do and which one is most appropriate given your situation. 

Employment Lawyer

An employment lawyer deals with a broad range of employment-related issues, including but not limited to wrongful dismissal, constructive dismissal, contract negotiations, workplace harassment or bullying, sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and compliance with employment standards and human rights legislation. In other words, employment lawyer indicates a legal professional that has expertise across a variety of employment law-related issues, including wrongful termination and constructive dismissal. 

Notable Canadian Case: In Nagpal v. IBM Canada Ltd., 2021 ONCA 274, the Ontario Court of Appeal dealt with job abandonment. It established that clear, objective a evidence is needed to prove an employee’s intention to no longer be bound by an employment contract. The evidence must demonstrate that the employee’s intention to abandon his/her position was clear and unequivocal. Job abandonment cannot be unilaterally imposed by an employer. This case illustrates the type of complex employment disputes where an employment lawyer’s expertise is crucial​​.

Constructive Dismissal Lawyer

A constructive dismissal lawyer specializes in cases where an employee’s role, pay, or conditions are unilaterally changed by the employer, significantly enough to constitute a dismissal. This may include toxic work environments, unpaid wages, demotions, pay cuts, or drastic changes in job responsibilities.

Notable Canadian Case: In Crescent (1952) Limited v. Safety Insurance (1959) Limited, 2019 ONSC 931, the court dealt with a claim of constructive dismissal when the owner of Safety Insurance attempted to unilaterally change the compensation packages of two salespeople. This proposed change would have likely resulted in a decrease in their salaries. The court’s decision emphasized the significance of maintaining agreed-upon remuneration terms in an employment contract, ruling that such unilateral alterations by an employer could constitute constructive dismissal. This case highlights some examples of legal boundaries within which employers must operate when altering employment contracts, particularly regarding remuneration

Wrongful Dismissal Lawyer

A wrongful dismissal lawyer focuses on cases where an employee is dismissed without just cause or without adequate notice or severance pay. Even in cases of termination with just cause, it could still be considered a wrongful termination. These cases often involve evaluating the context leading up to the termination, terms of the dismissal and the compensation owed to the employee.

Notable Canadian Case: Moffatt v. Prospera Credit Union, from the British Columbia Supreme Court, is a significant example. The court awarded damages for wrongful dismissal due to the misleading nature of the termination letter and the employer’s post-termination conduct, which included inadequate notice and severance pay​​.

Navigating the Nuances of Employment Law

Each type of lawyer plays a critical role in ensuring that employment laws are upheld and that both employers and employees are treated fairly in accordance with those laws. While their roles may overlap in some aspects, the specificity of their focus areas differentiates them from one another. 

For example, while an employment lawyer may handle a range of employment issues, a constructive dismissal lawyer specifically deals with cases where an employee’s job role or conditions have been substantially altered without their consent, and a wrongful dismissal lawyer focuses on cases of unfair termination.

In the context of Canadian employment law, these distinctions are particularly important given the complexity and specificity of cases that can arise, as illustrated by the cases linked above. The nuanced nature of employment law in Canada underscores the importance of seeking specialized legal counsel in these areas to ensure the best possible outcomes for all parties involved.

Work with a Leading Employment Law Firm

Unified LLP has a variety of lawyers in Toronto able to tackle your employment law needs. 

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Get in touch for an employment lawyer Toronto free consultation so we can ensure you work with an experienced legal professional able to help you achieve the maximum compensation you are owed.