Can an employer unilaterally change the way an employee is dismissed?

Ontario, Canada


The following excerpt is from McInerney v. RJM Holdings Limited, 2019 ONSC 7179 (CanLII):

For the purpose of a wrongful dismissal action, the manner of dismissal may be express or constructive. The concept of constructive dismissal is founded in the principle that a party to a contract commits a fundamental breach when it demonstrates that it no longer intends to be bound by the contract’s terms. As a result, in circumstances in which an employer unilaterally makes a fundamental or substantial change to the terms of an employee’s contract of employment that otherwise violates the contract’s terms, the employer commits a fundamental breach, and the employee is entitled to consider himself or herself constructively dismissed. The employee may then assert a claim for damages against the employer, for failure to provide reasonable notice of termination: see Farber v. Royal Trust Co. (1996), 1997 CanLII 387 (SCC), [1997] 1 S.C.R. 846, at para. 33.

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