Changes in Employment Status
Whether it is a new hire, a promotion, a re-organization or a dismissal, changes to an individual’s employment status can have significant implications for both an Employee and the Employer.
The employment law group at Mann Lawyers works with both Employers and Employees in a diversity of work environments. This experience facilitates our ability to provide advice and recommend solutions that support the business objectives of our corporate clients, and the personal objectives of the individual employees who retain us.
An effective workforce is essential to running a successful business. When employers choose to make changes in the makeup of their staff, a lawyer can help ensure it is done effectively, with minimal conflict. Mann Lawyers is a trusted member of the Ottawa business community and has an expansive business law practice. This is an asset to our corporate clients who benefit from our advice in all areas of their operations.
Chief Justice Dickson eloquently described the importance of the role of work in our lives as follows:
Work is one of the most fundamental aspects in a person’s life, providing the individual with a means of financial support and, as importantly, a contributory role in society. A person’s employment is an essential component of his or her sense of identity, self-worth and emotional well-being.
Reference Re Public Service Employee Relations Act (Alta.), 1987 CanLII 88 (SCC),  1 S.C.R. 313, at p. 368:
Later Justice Iacobucci echoed these words and wrote
I would add that not only is work fundamental to an individual’s identity, but also that the manner in which employment can be terminated is equally important.
Machtinger v. HOJ Industries Ltd.,  1 S.C.R. 986
Our team of employment lawyers are keenly aware of the fundamental role that employment plays in the lives of our clients as well as how difficult it can be for people to candidly discuss their experiences in the workplace; it is why we chose to work in this field and why we enjoy what we do. We strive to provide compassionate, knowledgeable, practical and focused advice to employees. Our approach is to obtain context and discuss options and solutions.
When an employee is forced to leave a job against their will because of their employer’s conduct, this is deemed to be constructive dismissal.
There are two ways in which a court may arrive at the conclusion that an employee has been constructively dismissed.
Option 1 – The employee must show that there has been a breach of the contract and if so, the court will ask whether at the time the breach occurred a reasonable person in the same situation would have felt that the essential terms of the employment contract were being substantially changed. A minor breach does not amount to a constructive dismissal. Whether a change will amount to a constructive dismissal will depend on the facts of the case being considered.
Option 2 – The employee is not required to point to an actual specific substantial change in compensation, work assignments etc. Instead the focus is on whether the employer behaves in a way that shows an intention to no longer be bound by the contract.
In either case, it is important to discuss risks and obligations that may exist to mitigate damages.
When an employment relationship ends, the resulting conflict can be emotionally trying and legally challenging. Employers require legal guidance to uphold their legal obligations and defend their actions. Employees similarly require legal counsel to advise on the terms of their dismissal and whether legal action is appropriate.
We advise clients on their options in cases of wrongful termination. We have the comprehensive business knowledge to effectively advise corporate owners on ending an employment relationship in a way that protects their interests. We are also compassionate and effective advocates for individually terminated employees who want guidance on their legal options.
Employees offered a severance package do not always have the knowledge to determine whether what they are offered is fair. Our services include review of severance packages to give employees the benefit of our legal opinion on what they may or may not be owed. This consultation can leave clients with the peace of mind of knowing their rights and options.