In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act is the legislation that sets minimum employment standards in most workplaces
Employment Standards Act
The ESA covers many employees in Ontario, though there are exceptions such as federally regulated employees and other specific industries. If an individual experiences an issue in the workplace that is covered by the ESA, they have the right to file a claim with the Ministry of Labour. There is no cost to this. Note that there are two general scenarios where an employee cannot file a claim. First, unionized employees generally have to address issues through the grievance and arbitration process outlined in their collective agreement. Second, a worker cannot file a claim if they have already started a court action against their employer for the same issue.
Some workers are understandably nervous about complaining about their employer, so it is important to know that it is illegal for your employer to punish you for filing a claim. Claims can be filed online or in paper within two years of the offending behaviour, and if everything is in order the Ministry of Labour will assign an Employment Standards Officer to the investigation.
Employees cannot commence a court action for wrongful dismissal AND file a claim for termination or severance pay. They must choose between the two. It is best to consult with a lawyer to select the option that best fits your individual case. Employees can contact the Employment Standards Information Centre for assistance in identifying and defining issues under the ESA, and to discuss possible methods of resolution.
Please note that the above information does not constitute legal advice. It is general information about the law. If you require legal advice with an employment issue, please contact the experts at Ball Professional Corporation.
Canadian Employment Law
Mr. Ball is author of the authoritative and definitive text Canadian Employment Law - published by Canada Law Book (a division of Thomson Reuters). The text is used and cited by lawyers, law schools and judges across Canada.
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