Forced to Quit? Your Rights and Options in Ontario

Samantha Kompa
Employment Law

It's illegal for Ontario employers to force their employees to quit. Luckily, employees have protections and avenues for recourse. This post outlines your rights as an employee in Ontario and provides options to help you navigate this challenging situation. 

Forced to quit: Understanding constructive dismissal in Ontario

Did you know that there’s a legal term for the experience of being forced to quit your job? It’s called ‘Constructive Dismissal’. Ontario recognizes constructive dismissal when an employer makes a unilateral and significant change to your employment contract that you haven't agreed to. This could include a demotion, a substantial pay cut, or intolerable working conditions. If you feel forced to resign because of these changes, it may be seen as a constructive dismissal, entitling you to potential compensation. 

It’s important to note that constructive dismissal should not be claimed lightly. If you claim constructive dismissal without the facts to support it, you will be considered to have resigned and be left without access to damages. 

Don’t quit before speaking with a lawyer

Whenever possible, try to speak to a lawyer before you quit your job. Not all changes to a work environment will lead to constructive dismissal. If you feel that your health or safety is at risk by continuing to go into work, consider taking a leave while you evaluate your options with a lawyer.  

It is important to speak with a lawyer quickly once concerns arise. Silence can be taken as tacit consent to the change, which would compromise any claim for constructive dismissal. 

The importance of documenting your circumstances

It's critical to document every relevant detail, including: changes in your responsibilities or title, any correspondence regarding these changes, incidents that contribute to a hostile work environment, etc. This evidence is invaluable when making a case for constructive dismissal. Do your best to keep email or text records, journal your experiences, or any other form of documentation.

Do not condone or consent to any changes that you have concerns about, and never sign anything your employer presents to you without speaking with a lawyer first. 

Potential options when facing constructive dismissal

If you find yourself feeling forced to quit your job in Ontario, you should speak with a lawyer immediately, and ideally before you quit. Generally, employees have several paths to consider. Depending on the specifics of your situation, your options may include:

  • Fixing Your Work Environment: Sometimes, an employer just needs to hear your concerns in order to rectify them. 
  • Negotiating a Severance Package: You may be able to negotiate a severance package with your employer if you’re being constructively dismissed. This can include severance pay, continuation of benefits, and other forms of compensation.
  • Pursuing a Claim for Constructive Dismissal in Court: If negotiation does not result in a resolution that you’re satisfied with, you may consider filing a lawsuit for constructive dismissal. This legal action can help you seek compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages.

Each of these options comes with different considerations, procedures, and potential outcomes. An employment lawyer can provide detailed advice tailored to your circumstances, helping you understand the implications of each choice and guiding you through the process.

Apply for Employment Insurance (EI)

Being forced to quit doesn't automatically disqualify you from receiving employment insurance (EI) benefits. If you can demonstrate that you had no reasonable alternative but to leave your job, you may still be eligible. Ensure your application accurately reflects your situation and seek advice on how to present your case effectively.

Work with an employment lawyer that cares as much as you do

Kompa Law
specializes in employment law and is dedicated to supporting residents of Ontario. If you’re feeling forced to quit your job, we can help you pick the right option for you, advocate on your behalf, and ensure you’re getting fairly compensated.

Feeling forced to quit can be an isolating experience, but you're not alone. Understanding your rights and options is the first step towards resolving the matter and moving forward. If you're navigating this complex situation, contact Kompa Law for support and guidance.