Were you fired while on leave, parental leave or disability?
If your employer terminated your employment while you were on leave from work (i.e. pregnancy/paternity leave, disability leave), you may have a basis to seek additional compensation or, in specific circumstances, a return to work.
While Ontario employers are generally allowed to hire and fire employees as they choose, there are some caveats to this rule. For example, employers are not allowed to dismiss an employee (or refuse to return him/her to their existing job) as a result of the individual taking paternity or disability leave. Such action is considered discrimination and may place the employer in violation both of its obligations pursuant to the Human Rights Codeand the Employment Standards Act, 2000. Generally speaking, employees cannot be dismissed if the reason, at least in part, is connected to them being absent due to a disability or paternity leave. If your employer does end your employment in these circumstances, it will be required to demonstrate that its decision in this regard was legitimate (i.e. down to corporate downsizing) and as not in any way connected to the fact that you were on leave from the workplace.
As such, if you are dismissed while on leave from work, it is advisable to speak with an experienced employment lawyer, as this may impact your entitlements and require a different approach in responding to your employer’s decision.