3 things to do when you've been dismissed

Termination is usually a negative experience that leaves people feeling shocked, offended and upset. This is not the best state of mind to make decisions that can affect your legal rights going forward or your financial and professional situation. I’ve learned this as workers contact me regularly for advice, help and some expert legal perspective on how to deal with being terminated from their employment. While every case is different and the opinions and perspective I provide will vary widely after I understand the situation fully there are three (3) tips I think are universal for all employees to know.


Your former employer wants you to panic and sign the severance package and terms they have offered you before you really consider whether it is legal or fair. Commonly, they will ask you to sign directly after notifying you that you no longer have employment or suggest that if you don’t sign right away you will be entitled to nothing at all. In other common cases they will provide an unreasonably short window to review and consider their offer, usually a short number of days.

The time to make the decision on their offer is not right away or within an unreasonable and unilateral period of time like twenty-four (24), forty-eight (48) or seventy-two (72) hours. You are entitled to a reasonable period to after the termination event, consider your options and reflect on what you are entitled to and desire. Do not be pressured to sign off on a severance package without having adequate time to consider the offer and always have it reviewed by an employment law professional.


The Law surrounding termination is a story that is still being written. New standards, cases and rulings form the Court are going to dictate what you are legally entitled to for severance and that may be different than even the recent past. Aseverance review will let you know whether you’re minimum legal rights were respected under such law as the Employment Standards Act or the Canada Labour Code. More importantly, a professional severance review will advise you that the amount of severance being offered is up to fate with your Common Law entitlements. Common Law entitlements can be considered the most up to date rulings and standards as stated by Ontario Courts. This perspective will tell you far more about your entitlement at termination then strictly interpreting Provincial or Federal law.

Notice periods under the, “common law” are generally more advantageous to the terminated employee. The Courts look at factors such as:

  • The Employee’s Age
  • Length of Employment
  • Character of Employment
  • Type of Employment
  • Availability of Similar Employment
  • Previous decisions by the Courts

A legal professional will take all the above information into consideration as well as your individual story to provide you with legal advice you can trust.


When employers decide to terminate an employee they general look to do just two things:

  1. Pay as little as possible to the employee being terminated.
  2. Make sure the company isn’t exposed to legal action.

Recognizing that you have rights and that only you or your advocate can advance is the first and most important step towards being treated with respect and securing a fair settlement from your former employer.

Providing professional legal perspective for terminated workers is what I love to do. If you have any questions regarding your termination or would like a free severance review, let’s talk. We're available and happy to answer your questions. Call us at: 226.647.8282 or e-mail our office at briancsmith@briancsmith.ca