Constructive Dismissal

In the workplace, constructive dismissal occurs when an employee feels so uncomfortable or frustrated with their job that they feel compelled to leave. This can have serious consequences on the employee and their family. For example, it can leave a mark on their employment record that hiring managers will question when reviewing future job applications. It can also harm the employee’s sense of pride and self-esteem by depriving them of their source of income and a positive identity.

While the Employee Standards Act (ESA) defines the parameters of what can constitute a breach of an employment contract, common law – principles derived from court decisions – offers a broader scope for protections. For instance, the ESA states that any change in an employee’s working conditions can lead to a claim of constructive dismissal, but common law considers a broader range of circumstances beyond the statutory minimums.

One key consideration is whether or not the change in an employee’s working hours constitutes a fundamental change to their contract. While there is no absolute answer to this question since every case must be assessed on its own, courts are generally wary of drastic changes. For instance, moving a worker’s desk to another location within the office would not be considered a substantial change. However, changing a work location to a place that is significantly farther away from home would.

Can Constructive Dismissal Occur Due To Changes In Working Hours?

The second factor is whether or not the change makes it impossible for an employee to do their job effectively. While it is not possible for an employer to make a worker’s job so incredibly challenging or demanding that they can no longer do their job, they must ensure that the employee can reasonably carry out their duties.

For example, Jane worked as a marketing representative for a company for three years until her manager started to berate and criticize her regularly. This constant criticism impacted her morale and made it untenable to continue to work at the company. Jane resigned and claimed constructive termination.

In order to claim constructive dismissal, an employee must resign from their job within a reasonable period of time following the alleged breach of their contract. This means that a worker will need to have an alternate job lined up or risk being found to have failed to mitigate their damages. Therefore, it is important that an employee keeps detailed records of any incidents or experiences in the workplace that they feel may lead to a claim of constructive dismissal. This documentation will be critical in establishing the length of notice required and the strength of the case. If you have questions about changes in your working hours or believe that you have been the victim of constructive dismissal, contact Bune Law for a consultation with a Toronto constructive dismissal lawyer. Our lawyers will review your situation and help you devise a strategy to address the issue. This may include filing a complaint or seeking compensation from your employer.

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