A typical wrongful dismissal case (where cause is not an issue) generally involves two legal issues. First, how much reasonable notice of termination (or pay in lieu) should the employee have received based on the employee’s age, length of service, position, compensation and the availability of comparable employment. Second, did the employee mitigate his/her damages by finding alternative employment or failing to make reasonable efforts to do so during the notice period? Notably, a judge can decrease the notice period based on the employee’s unreasonable mitigation efforts.
employee’s mitigation efforts
When advising a wrongfully terminated employee as to her legal rights and obligations, I always point out that a wrongful dismissal claim is not like winning the lottery. While employers are obligated to provide reasonable notice of termination or payment in lieu of such notice, terminated employees must make “reasonable efforts” to find new employment. As is often the case, the devil is in the details. What must a dismissed employee do to meet her obligation to mitigate? What have courts determined to be reasonable steps? What conduct has been held to be unreasonable? From whose perspective will reasonableness be judged–the employers or the employees?