Many businesses are blissfully unaware of the legal minefields they are navigating until one day it happens: a terminated employee sues, makes a Ministry of Labour Complaint or files a Human Rights Complaint. All of a sudden, the employer is faced with the full wrath of statutes and common law and generally a cheque made payable to the former employee. Much of this can be avoided if you talk to a lawyer before terminating an employee.
Here are a few of the problems that need to be addressed:
1. Make sure you’ve calculated your statutory termination and severance pay correctly. If you don’t do this correctly, you could be punished by a Court with “punitive damages” for failing to comply with the statutory minimums.
2. Ensure your business doesn’t become the Long Term Disability provider for former employees by drawing to their attention the availability of those benefits and ensuring you comply with the current Case Law trend of providing those benefits throughout the notice period.
3. Be certain there is no “duty to accommodate” an employee with a disability before terminating their employment. In Ontario, employers must accommodate a disability to the point of undue hardship on the employer, not the employee.
Terminating employees is not simple. Get good advice before you go that route: you’ll save yourself a lot of money and stress if you do.
Inga B. Andriessen JD