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  • Writer's pictureNaresh Misir

Navigating Constructive Dismissals in Ontario with Confidence

Misir & Company: Your Trusted Ally in Understanding and Resolving Workplace Disputes

In the landscape of employment law in Ontario, the term 'constructive dismissal' often surfaces. For employees and employers alike, understanding this concept is not just about legal compliance; it's about recognizing and upholding workplace rights and responsibilities. At Misir and Company Lawyers, we believe in demystifying legal jargon to empower you with clarity and confidence. Let's unravel the threads of constructive dismissal in Ontario in a way that's professional, yet relatable.

What is Constructive Dismissal in Ontario?

Constructive dismissal, sometimes known as "disguised dismissal" or "quitting with cause," is a nuanced concept in Ontario employment law. 

Constructive dismissal in Ontario occurs when an employer makes a substantial change to an employee's job without their consent, and they resign in protest. This could include changes to pay, work location, job duties, or hours of work. The law typically treats the resignation as a termination. Constructive dismissal also occurs when an employee resigns due to a toxic work environment. 

Qualifying Factors for Constructive Dismissal

So, what exactly tips the scale towards constructive dismissal? The most common trigger is a unilateral alteration in job duties. Imagine being hired as a chef and then being told you'll now be washing dishes – that's the kind of shift we're talking about. It's not just about doing something different; it's about altering the essence of your job.

The Legal Test for Constructive Dismissal

The test for constructive dismissal was set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission, 2015 SCC 10 (CanLII), [2015] 1 SCR 500 as follows: The first branch of the test for constructive dismissal, the one that requires a review of specific terms of the contract, has two steps:  first, the employer’s unilateral change must be found to constitute a breach of the employment contract and, second, if it does constitute such a breach, it must be found to substantially alter an essential term of the contract. For that second step of the analysis, the court must ask whether, at the time that the breach occurred, a reasonable person in the same situation as the employee would have felt that the essential terms of the employment contract were being substantially changed. In determining this, a court must not consider evidence consisting of information that was neither known to the employee nor reasonably foreseeable.

Employment Insurance and Constructive Dismissal

Normally, if you resign from your employment, you are not entitled to EI or to any severance. However, if your resignation occurs because you were constructively dismissed, you are entitled to both severance and EI. Consult with us today before you make the decision of resigning to see if your employer has, indeed, constructively dismissed you.

Work Environments and Constructive Dismissal

A toxic work environment can also be a breeding ground for constructive dismissal. If your workplace feels like a toxic work environment, and if your employer isn’t addressing these issues, it might be time to seek legal counsel. 

Recognizing Signs of Constructive Dismissal

Spotting the signs of constructive dismissal can be tricky. It's not always about dramatic changes; sometimes, it's the subtle shifts that signal trouble. Keep an eye out for changes in job duties, working hours, or even workplace discrimination. 

Settlements and Compensation in Constructive Dismissal Cases

When it comes to settlements and compensation, Ontario law provides for severance pay and other forms of compensation in cases of constructive dismissal. It's not just about walking away; it's about walking away with what you rightfully deserve.

How to Commence a Claim for Constructive Dismissal in Ontario

The process of initiating a claim for constructive dismissal involves collecting evidence, understanding your employment contract, and seeking professional legal advice. Remember, it's not a journey you need to embark on alone. Misir and Company Lawyers are here to guide you through each step.

Writing a Constructive Dismissal Resignation Letter

Crafting a resignation letter in a constructive dismissal scenario requires a delicate balance. It's about being assertive yet respectful, clear yet comprehensive. Our lawyers at Misir and Company can help you word your resignation letter in a way that it will not hurt your claim for constructive dismissal.

FAQ Section

What is constructive dismissal in Ontario?

It’s when your job changes fundamentally without your consent, almost like a bait-and-switch in employment terms or a toxic work environment exists that makes continuing at your job unbearable.

What qualifies for constructive dismissal?

Major changes in your job responsibilities, pay, or working conditions, without your agreement, or a toxic work environment are typical qualifiers.

Can you get EI for constructive dismissal?

Yes, usually, you're eligible for EI and severance in cases of constructive dismissal.

What is constructive dismissal due to a toxic work environment?

It's when your workplace becomes intolerable due to issues like harassment, making you feel forced to resign.


Navigating the complexities of constructive dismissal in Ontario doesn't have to be a solo journey. At Misir & Co, we ensure that you're not just informed, but also supported. Whether you're grappling with changes in your employment or facing a challenging work environment, we're here to offer the guidance and legal support you need. Understanding constructive dismissal is your right, and addressing it effectively is our commitment.

Contact Us

Ready to take action or need more insights on constructive dismissal in Ontario? Reach out to Misir and Company Lawyers for tailored legal advice that resonates with your unique situation. 

Unfair job changes in Ontario? Call 416-856-6274 for legal guidance on constructive dismissal rights and solutions.


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