This year’s Ontario Employment Law Conference co-sponsored by First Reference and Stringer Brisbin Humphrey on June 2, 2010, will touch on several topics of importance to employers; refer to the conference Agenda for details. In addition, the conference will allow employers to review recent developments in the law that affect their workplace practices, policies and programs.
The first topic on the Agenda will provide employers with guidance on a significant court decision and changes in court procedures affecting the termination process. Specifically it should help employers minimize claims arising from the termination process.
How you go about deciding whether to terminate an employee, and the termination process itself, can have a great impact on whether that employee will pursue a lawsuit. Employees who feel they have been treated fairly in their termination are much less likely to pursue wrongful dismissal claims. If employers fail to act in good faith when terminating, they run the risk of being liable for significant damages.
You should evaluate your termination process in relation to the principles applied in the key Supreme Court decision, Honda v. Keays—one of the most important employment law case in Canada in years—and the new Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure that took effect on January 1, 2010.
Moreover, the Court has affirmed its decision in Wallace that an employer is entitled to terminate an employee for any reason provided it makes payment in lieu of notice, while still imposing an obligation on employers to terminate employees in a “candid, reasonable, honest and forthright” manner, and to pay damages for any wrongful termination. The Keays decision further explains the rationale behind compensating bad faith in the manner of dismissal. Meaning, the decision makes it clear that Wallace (punitive) damages are awarded for reasonably foreseeable mental distress caused by the manner of dismissal, requiring employees to prove their actual losses, rather than adding an extension to the notice period.
In regard to the new Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure, actions brought in Small Claims Court proceed more quickly and are disposed of with fewer procedural steps compared to cases in the Superior Court of Justice. And now, monetary limits in Small Claims Court have been increased from $10,000 to $25,000, and under the Simplified Procedures from $50,000 to $100,000. These changes make it easier and less expensive for employees to sue their employers, providing employees with a more attractive, quick and less involved resolution of wrongful dismissal actions.
There is much more; come and learn how to manage terminations and litigation in light of these developments. Register for the 2010 Employment Law Conference — and Learn the latest!