What to do if you believe you were wrongfully fired

Your drive to work is pleasant and uneventful, and you are actually looking forward to a productive day at work. But you’re no sooner in the door when your manager calls you into the office and asks you to sit down. He tells you very bluntly and without warning that you no longer have a job.

Once you gather your composure, you’re more than likely wondering why he didn’t give you a reason and what your recourse might be. Employers don’t have to give their employees a reason for firing them, but they usually will give a termination notice, which they can do by telling employees beforehand while giving a specific timeframe or by asking them to leave immediately and paying them in lieu of that timeframe.

Why no reason is often given?

The law stipulates that there are certain reasons employers can’t use for firing you. The Employment Standards Act (ESA) in Canada lays out all the reasons employers can’t fire employees. An employer who wrongfully fires an employee for one of these reasons may be extremely careful to avoid giving a clear reason to that particular employee in an attempt to avoid future legal repercussions.

Your boss can’t fire you for anything the ESA says is against your basic human rights. They can’t fire you because of your race, colour or ethnicity, for instance. Also against the law is letting someone go because of a mental or physical disability — including addictions. Add to that pregnancy, whether or not you have children, marital status, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression or gender identity.

Get the evidence together

If you have an inkling your firing was for a reason that violated your rights, the more evidence you have, the better. Any documents you can gather will help your legal team should you decide to pursue the matter.

Here are some things that could help your case:

  • Any employment contract you might have
  • Notes you may have about any happenings at work regarding your treatment or questionable things managers might have said to you
  • All emails, notes, memos or letters that could indicate a reason for your firing
  • Your record of employment that your employer gives you at the time of your firing
  • A way to contact your co-workers who might have heard or seen things regarding why you might have been fired

If your employer didn’t give you a reason for your firing, it could be in your best interest to seek legal advice. An Ontario lawyer might be able to offer you guidance after hearing your story. If you believe your firing violated your employee or human rights, obtaining legal advice could possibly help you to decide if you want to take legal action against your employer. Your experienced lawyer could help you navigate this process and significantly increase your odds of obtaining the best possible outcome for your case.