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Is your boss trying to force you to quit?

You may be among the many who fantasize about walking away from their jobs. When your job gets stressful, it may be satisfying and even comforting to think of leaving behind a toxic and unfair work environment and perhaps forcing your employer to scramble to find someone of your caliber to replace you.

In real life, however, there are serious ramifications for quitting a job. The most painful may be that you lose the right to termination pay and any other benefits for which you qualify if your employer fires you. On the other hand, you may feel that recent changes your employer made have caused your situation to be unbearable. In fact, you may have legal options if your employer has given you no choice but to quit.

What is constructive dismissal?

If your employer has surprised you with changes in your duties, schedule or treatment that you did not agree to, you may be the victim of constructive dismissal. In this case, your situation becomes so bad that it is the same as your employer firing you. While the details in each case are unique and complex, some examples of behaviour that may qualify as constructive dismissal include the following:

  • Transferring you to a location far from your Ottawa home without warning or consulting you
  • Demoting you for no apparent reason
  • Cutting your salary or withholding pay rightfully owed to you
  • Violating your human rights through discrimination or harassment, or allowing others on the job to mistreat you

In such cases and others, you may feel as if your employer is trying to force you to quit, and this may be true. It is always a good idea to keep a log of any of these behaviours. Jotting down the details will allow you to work with your legal counsel to build your case. By sending the notes to yourself in an email as soon as they happen, you will have a recorded memory of the actions as well as proof of the dates and times.

Whether you are still on the job or have already quit, your situation is delicate. You would be wise to seek legal advice as soon as you can. Remaining on the job may make it difficult to prove your situation is unbearable, but walking out may place your rights in jeopardy. A lawyer can advise you on the most appropriate action to take.

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