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Employment Lawyer Consultation

Toronto employment lawyer consultation.

Simplify Your Employment Law Concerns

Book a One-Hour Employment Lawyer Consultation for Just $399

Need a quick employment lawyer consultation? Navigating Ontario employment law can be complex and confusing. Get straightforward, actionable advice from a lawyer in the field, all from the comfort of your home or office with our employment law consultations. Same day service is often available.

What Makes Us Different?

We are not a traditional firm. Dutton Employment Law only does consultations – we do not intake clients or handle their matters after the consultation. View our Terms here.

Dutton Employment Law is for individuals or companies looking for a quick one hour chat about their employment law issues, not for those looking to retain a lawyer to handle a matter after the consultation.

Dutton Employment Law was created as a simple source for answering your employment law questions in a timely manner.

Just need an employment contract reviewed? Just need to know how to resign? Consult with us.

All consultations are conducted with an Ontario law school educated, Law Society of Ontario licensed lawyer with nearly 10 years of experience in employment law.

We can provide you instant advice, review a problem, or just chat through an issue.

In addition, we can refer you to one of dozens of appropriate lawyers in various specialties whom we respect who can represent you should you require to proceed on your matter. We do not collect referral fees from you or from other lawyers – we drive our income from consultations only.


Schedule a Consult

Why Choose Dutton Employment Law?

  • Experienced Advice: The consultation lawyer, Jeff Dutton, is a licensed Ontario lawyer who:
    • Was educated in Ontario (Western (BA) and Ottawa (JD));
    • Was called to the Ontario bar in 2014;
    • Has practiced employment law exclusively ever since he articled for the Ministry of Labour in 2013.
  • Affordable Rates: Get an hour of a lawyer’s guidance for only $399.
  • Convenient: Consultations are conducted via Zoom, so you can get the help you need wherever you are, usually on the same day.

What We Do

We can help you answer any employment law question in Ontario.

Individuals and companies commonly use our consultation service to review an employment contract, discuss the reasonableness of a severance package or analyze a potential constructive dismissal.

What Is The Benefit Of A Paid Consultation With an Employment Lawyer?

Many employment law firms offer free consultations for severance packages, but no law firm that we know of offers free consultations for every kind of employment law issue (like contracts or HR advice, for example).

Hence, we offer affordable paid consultations to advise you on any employment law issue, and we guarantee that you will speak with a lawyer with nearly ten years experience.

In addition, you may appreciate that because we do not seek a retainer with you following our consultation, we will be quite blunt.

Lastly, we are generally available to speak on the same day you want to make your consultation.

How It Works

  1. Book a Time: Use our simple online booking form and choose a consultation time that works for you.
  2. Get a Zoom Link: A Zoom link will be automatically sent to you upon booking.
  3. Consult: Meet us at the scheduled time on Zoom for a one-hour consultation to discuss your employment law questions and concerns.

Book A Consultation With An Employment Lawyer Now

Location: Ontario Wide

Although we are located in Toronto, we are licensed to practice in all of Ontario and take consultations from clients anywhere in the world for Ontario employment law issues.

Begin filling out the form below to make an appointment. Same day service is often available.

We Listen

After you call to set up your phone or Zoom consultation, a licensed Ontario employment lawyer, Jeffrey Dutton, will listen to your story, ask you questions about facts you may have missed and analyze your employment law issue before providing you with an opinion.

We Answer

If you were let go (terminated, fired) or have any other questions about employment law (e.g. contracts, constructive dismissal, human rights), the employment lawyer will advise if you have a case.

At the end of the consultation, we will advise what steps you should consider taking (if any), how long your matter might take, who to retain and how much it will cost to proceed with an employment lawyer should you require one. We do not charge or accept referral fees.

How A Consultation Works

1. Fill out the form to book your consultation.

2. Attend the consultation over Zoom.

Step 1: Schedule an Employment Lawyer Consultation

Fill out the form to book a consultation (60 minutes). We are happy to discuss anything related to employment law and human resources issues in your consultation.

There is no obligation to hire our law firm because we do not provide any other legal services except employment law legal advice consultations. In this way, we are well-positioned to provide to-the-point and blunt advice, whether it is good news or bad news from your perspective.

We would be pleased to answer any employment law questions. For example, if you need a new employment contract reviewed, we will do so in our consultation.

If you need a follow-up consultation, book another another using the same form on this webpage.

After you consult with the lawyer, there is no obligation to retain our law firm because we do not retain clients past the consultation. In this way, there will be no pressure when we speak.

If we can’t help you, we will tell you straight up and refer you to someone who can. We want what is best for you.

***Please note that we do not provide free consultations.

Step 2: Attend The Employment Lawyer Consultation

I review Your Matter Before

I will review the facts you include the form, consider and research the issues and read the documents you upload before our consultation, free of charge.

I Arrive and Introduce Myself In the Consultation

I typically ask what you want to get out of this this consultation and then move to prompt you for the facts, often querying things you had not thought of.

You Ask Questions

Our goal is to give you peace of mind. We want you to ask us everything (there are no wrong questions here). Moreover, asking us questions helps bring out details of your case that you may have missed or thought were insignificant.

We Answer your Questions

We will provide you an in-depth oral opinion. For example, if this is a litigation matter, we let you know if you have a case, how much it might be worth, how much it might cost, how long it might take, and what your chances of success are.

We Advise Next Steps

We hope to answer all your questions on our consultation. However, if there are more questions, we can schedule another one. Furthermore, if you need to retain a lawyer, will refer you one we respect (we do not collect or accept referral fees).

If you have received a termination or severance package, we will review it on the Zoom. If you have been accused of misconduct, we will review the facts. If you have suffered from harassment or any breach of your human rights in the workplace, we will analyze your case. Whatever your issue, we will try to find an answer.

Book Before You Sign the Release

Most terminated, dismissed, fired, or laid-off employees are owed money from their employer. In some cases, to get the maximum amount of funds, employees may require the services of an employment lawyer to advise them and act on their behalf. Do not sign anything until you speak with a lawyer!

Employment Lawyer Consultation Terms: The Fine Print


I conduct consultations only.

This is commonly referred to as unbundling legal services.

I will not represent you after our consultation. I do not draft memos or create contracts or take your case to court. My sole service is one-on-one Zoom legal consultations.

You agree that the only task I will be responsible for is the consultation. You further agree that I have limited your services to a consultation only and thus you are taking on a risk that you will not have permanent legal representation for your matter after the consultation. In many cases, it may be more prudent for you to hire a lawyer who does consultations and who provides for full legal representation after the consultation. If this is this case, in the consultation, I will tell you that in my judgment, you should not use my consultation-only services, and that you should instead retain a lawyer who offers more traditional services, and I will make a recommendation which lawyer you should therefore contact.

While I have a duty to keep everything you tell me in the strictest confidence, avoid conflicts of interest and to provide you with the absolute most professional level of service, again, I am not your lawyer following our consultation. That means that I will not help you if you have further legal needs/questions unless you book an additional consultation.


I require prepayment authorization of $399 for your consultation (credit card authorization is accepted on the booking form). This preauthorization is not held in trust and it does not form a retainer.

After the consultation, your credit card is charged the amount previously authorised. This is a one time, non-recurring charge.

Considering we do not meet in person at an office, I require prepayment because this is the only way I can ensure I get paid for my work.


If you are not satisfied with our consultation, please let me know, within seven days, and I will refund your payment. My goal is to leave you satisfied and for you to feel like the consultation was worth your money.

If you wish to cancel our consultation before it takes place, I will refund you so long as you give me three hours notice.

Employment Lawyer Consultations

Issues That Can Be Handled In Our Employment Lawyer Consultations

Severance Package Review

Severance packages are usually just the minimum an employer thinks it can get away with convincing you to agree to. These severance packages usually have fast-approaching dates to sign them back before the employee “loses” the offer. This is misleading; employees are owed what they are owed, regardless of what the employer offers, and only a lawyer can achieve the maximum on behalf of a wrongfully dismissed employee. Accordingly, before signing a release or a severance package, call our Toronto employment law group to speak with an employment and labour lawyer for a consultation.


In a Termination Package Review, a lawyer meets with a client to review the terms of a termination package. This is also sometimes called a Severance Package Review.

  • A termination package is an offer from the employer to the employee to sign a release in exchange for termination pay.
  • A release is a contract promising never to sue.

Suppose the offer made to the employee is unreasonable. In that case, the employee’s lawyer writes the employer a demand letter asking for more money. Here, the employer sometimes replies on its own or hires its lawyer.

If further negotiation is unsuccessful, the employee’s lawyer usually files a “wrongful dismissal” lawsuit. In this regard, most claims are settled at mediation well before a trial. 93% of all lawsuits settle before trial.

Never trust a law firm’s website termination package or severance package calculator. They are just a marketing gimmick designed to entice you to come in for a consultation. None of the top employment law firms in Toronto use them.

If you want to learn more, please book an employment lawyer consultation with us. 


Severance is bonus compensation that must be paid to qualified employees (5+ years of seniority) whose employment is terminated. Click here for more.

Contrary to popular opinion, severance is not the same as termination pay, which is money paid to an employee in lieu of working notice of termination of employment.

If you would like to learn more, please schedule a consultation with our employment lawyer. 

Constructive Dismissal

A constructive dismissal allows an employee to stop working and demand termination pay or sue for wrongful dismissal even though the employee was never terminated.

Constructive dismissal happens when an employee’s job or pay is changed significantly.

Constructive dismissal can also happen when an employee is treated so poorly that they cannot reasonably expect to return to work.

If you want to learn more, click here or book a consultation with us. 

Lay Off

Usually, people believe a “layoff” is an expression of downsizing, losing a job or being terminated without cause.

However, a layoff is a legal term meaning temporary stoppage of work. It is a layoff if an employer gives no work to an employee for less than 13 weeks in the last 20 weeks (or 35 in certain circumstances). Then, suppose the employer has yet to give the employee any work for over 13 weeks. In that case, the employee has been terminated and must be provided notice or termination pay in lieu.

If you want to learn more, please schedule a consultation with us.

Human Rights

An employer may be liable to compensate an employee if the employee was terminated for a discriminatory reason, including because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability.

Also, the employer may be liable to compensate the employee for discrimination before the termination and/or any harassment in the workplace by the employer or employee of the employer.

If you want to learn more, please book a consultation with us. 

Ministry of Labour

Employees with limited claims against their employer (less than $10,000) should consider filing a claim with an Employment Standards Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Labour. It is free, and individuals do not need a lawyer.

The Ministry of Labour investigates complaints of unpaid wages, overtime and vacation pay, pay equity, leaves of absence (i.e. maternity leave), and rights upon termination, among others. After the Ministry has completed a complaint, it can order the employer to pay the employee.

The Ministry of Labour, however, is extremely limited in the remedies it can award an employee. Unlike the courts, the Ministry cannot hear a wrongful dismissal case or order common law damages.

For example, the Ministry can only order an employer to provide an employee with up to $10,000 in wages. Conversely, the courts can order an employer to provide an employee with 24 months or more of full compensation.

Employees should be cautious before filing a complaint with the Ministry of Labour. Once an individual has filed a complaint, and two weeks have passed, they cannot change their mind and sue through the courts. At the same time, once an individual has sued in court, they cannot file a complaint at the Ministry of Labour.

An employee with concerns regarding whether it is better to file a claim through the Ministry of Labour or to sue the employer in court should contact an employment lawyer before filing a claim.

If you want to learn more, please schedule a consultation with us. 

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal, also sometimes called wrongful termination, unjust dismissal, or wrongful discharge, is when the employer fails to give a terminated employee reasonable notice of their termination. Click here for more on wrongful dismissal. Please book a consultation with us. 

Just Cause Termination

In rare cases, an employer can terminate an employee without notice, termination pay or severance if the employee has been guilty of serious misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, incompetence, conduct prejudicial to the employer or wilful disobedience. It is extremely difficult to prove. Click here for more. Please arrange a consultation with our law firm. 


There are several legal issues to consider in regards to resignation:

  • Some employees must give notice before quitting. If not, it could be a “wrongful resignation”;
  • Most employees who quit are not entitled to any termination pay, severance or employment insurance (“EI”);
  • Some employers may be able to claim “constructive dismissal” and get termination pay, severance and EI even though they quit;
  • Sometimes, a resignation is not a resignation. The law recognises that employees are entitled to take back such an important decision made in the heat of passion and
  • Some employees can be prevented from doing certain things after quitting, including:
    • non-compete;
    • non-solicitation; and
    • non-disclosure.

If you want to learn more, please schedule a consultation with us. 

Restrictive Covenants

Restrictive covenants are employment contract clauses prohibiting an employee from doing certain things.

non-competition clause prohibits employees from competing with their employer for a set period after the employee leaves the employer.

non-solicitation clause prohibits employees from soliciting or dealing with employer customers. Non-solicitation prohibits the employee from soliciting other employees to leave the employer.

Non-competition clauses are not always enforceable. Individuals with concerns regarding restrictive covenants should contact an employment lawyer to advise whether a court would enforce it.

If you want to learn more, please book an employment lawyer consultation with us. 

Employment Insurance

Most employees qualify for government employment insurance (“EI”) that will pay them a salary while they are not working for some reason, including:

  1. Regular benefits for people whose employment was terminated without cause;
  2. Sickness benefits for people who are unable to work due to illness or injury;
  3. Maternity and parental benefits for pregnant women, individuals who have recently had a baby and individuals who have adopted a baby;
  4. Compassionate care benefits people who must leave work to care for a gravely ill family member.

Sometimes, people can be denied government employment insurance benefits. 

If you want to learn more, please book a consultation with our law firm. 


Some employers provide employees regular benefits (i.e. dental insurance) and fringe benefits (i.e. a cell phone).

Employers have no legal obligation to provide benefits. However, if the employer does provide benefits, it must continue to do so. Otherwise, the employee can claim breach of contract or constructive dismissal and sue for damages.

In addition, if an employee is terminated, the employer must usually provide the employee the same benefits they would be owed during the notice period or pay in lieu of.

If you would like to learn more, please book an employment law legal advice consultation with us.

New Employment Contracts

New employees usually sign an employment contract before starting work. These contracts usually define the employee’s earnings, the employer’s policies, restrictive covenants such as non-competition or non-solicitation clauses and what happens in the event of termination.

Suppose employees do not sign an employment contract. In that case, they should know that they are still under an employment contract but that they and the employer are bound to the “common law” rather than defined terms and policies.

Usually, the most important thing to look out for is that employers can put into the employment contract a termination clause that limits the employee to notice of termination according to the Employment Standards Act minimums.

Employers are keen to insert a termination clause because it prevents the employee from being entitled to notice upon termination according to the common law, which is much more lucrative. In fact, the gap between the Employment Standards Act’s minimum notice and common law notice can be 96 weeks.

If you would like to learn more, please schedule a consultation.

Executive Compensation

Executive-level employees should seek the advice of an employment lawyer before signing a new employment contract.

An employment lawyer will be able to advise executive employees on issues about the vesting of different equity plans, pension and benefits, and related tax consequences.

In addition, an employment lawyer can advise on the payment of executive compensation generally, including tax and regulatory concerns.

Finally, an employment lawyer can generally advise executives on insurance issues, including director insurance, life insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance.

If you would like to learn more, please set up a consultation with us.

Pay Equity

The Ontario Pay Equity Act provides that both women and men receive equal pay for performing jobs that may be very different but are of equal value.

At the same time, the Employment Standards Act provides that women and men must receive equal pay for the same job. In other words, equal pay for “equal work”.

If an employer breaks the law regarding pay equity, the employer could be ordered to pay the employee the amount of all compensation lost.

If you would like to learn more, please set up an employment lawyer consultation with us.

Unpaid Training

Some employers do not pay their employees during training, and some employers do not pay their employees for what they call an “extended job interview”. Both are illegal. All employees in Ontario must be paid at all times. The only time it is okay not to pay someone for work is when that individual is not an employee.

Whether someone is an employee depends on the circumstances. For example, bona fide independent contractors and interns are not employees and need not be paid for training. However, it is very challenging for employers to prove an individual is an independent contractor or intern, and it doesn’t matter what the employer calls the individual. More often than not, the individual is an employee and must be paid at all times.

If you would like to learn more, please set up a consultation with us.


Employers must not discriminate against individuals when they hire their employees.

This means that the employer:

  • should not prescreen applicants for discriminatory reasons;
  • should not ask discriminatory questions in the interview;
  • should not refuse to hire anyone based on discrimination.

However, employers:

  • should make accommodations available at the interview and
  • Should set policies for preventing discriminatory hiring practices.

If an employer discriminates against an applicant employee, the employer could be ordered to compensate the applicant for injury to dignity, feelings, self-respect, lost wages and future earnings.

If you would like to learn more, please set up a consultation with us.

Independent Contractors

Workers are sometimes classified by themselves or their employer as an “independent contractor”.

Workers benefit from being classified as independent contractors by paying less payroll taxes and being able to deduct expenses. At the same time, employers benefit from classifying their workers as independent contractors by not having to pay for employee payroll taxes, vacation pay, holiday pay, overtime, minimum wage and termination pay or severance.

In our experience, many workers classified as independent contractors are wrongly classified. Suppose the employer exerts any real control over the worker. In that case, the worker is likely an employee, not an independent contractor. It makes no difference if the worker signed a contract stating they are an independent contractor. The only thing that matters is the true substance of the relationship.

Our counsel has litigation experience prosecuting independent contractor cases. Please set up a consultation with our firm to clarify whether an individual is an independent contractor.

Changes to the Employment Contract

Sometimes, employees are given new employment contracts to sign after they have worked for the employer for some time. This could be because of a promotion, a change in ownership or restructuring.

However, it is important to know that new employment contracts are not valid unless the employee and employer are provided “fresh consideration, ” which is a benefit for both sides. For example, if an employee were given a raise in exchange for a new contract, the contract would be valid. However, if the employee were unilaterally given a new contract without any new benefit (i.e. raise, bonus, better insurance plan, etc.), then the new contract would be unenforceable.

Fresh consideration is just one of many issues raised by new employment contracts. Other issues to look out for are the insertion of a termination clause, a restrictive covenant, or changes to vacation days.

If you would like to learn more, please set up a consultation.


A non-competition clause (or non-competition agreement) is a restrictive covenant in an employment contract. Not all employees have one.

A restrictive covenant in an employment contract limits what the employee can do during and after employment.

Specifically, a non-competition clause limits the employee from working for a competitor or going into business themselves in a competitive nature against their former employer.

Non-competition clauses are restraints of trade, meaning they restrict an individual’s ability to work after employment. For this reason, courts are only willing to enforce them if they are carefully crafted and limited in territory and time. For example, a valid non-competition clause would describe a valid reason for limiting competition and then limit the employee from competing in downtown Toronto for just 12 months. On the other hand, an unenforceable non-competition clause would fail to define a valid reason for its existence, define a region, and then try to limit the employee from competing for three years.

Also, because non-competition clauses are restraints on trade, if an employee is terminated from their job, and he or she has a non-competition clause in their employment contract, a judge would likely award them a lengthier notice period. This is because the employee was contractually limited in how quickly they could reasonably find new employment because they couldn’t apply to competitors.

If you would like to learn more, please set up an employment lawyer consultation.


A non-solicitation clause (or non-solicitation agreement) is a restrictive covenant in an employment contract. Not all employees have one. However, even if an employee does not have one and is an executive or high-level manager, he or she may be bound to an implied non-solicitation duty as a fiduciary.

Specifically, a non-solicitation clause limits the employee from taking or attempting to take the employer’s customers. In this regard, most individuals with a sales-related position have a non-solicitation clause in their employment contract.

Non-solicitation clauses are restraints of trade, meaning they restrict an individual’s ability to work after employment. However, unlike non-competition clauses, courts are more open to enforcing non-solicitation clauses to protect the valid business concerns of former employers.

Nevertheless, employers should carefully craft non-solicitation clauses to ensure they remain valid if a court tests them. The non-solicitation clause should describe how it is necessary in the context of the business and the employee’s duties regarding it. Furthermore, the non-solicitation clause should only apply to customers with whom the employee already has a relationship. Finally, the non-solicitation clause should be limited in territory and time. For example, an enforceable non-solicitation clause would describe the nature of the business, how the employee plays a role in the business, the customers the employee is expected to work with, whom the employee is prevented from working within the event the employee leaves, and that the employee is only prevented from soliciting customers in southern Ontario and for only 18 months.

If you would like to learn more, please set up a consultation.

Company Confidentiality

All employees owe a duty of confidentiality to their employer. It does not matter whether an employee’s employment contract includes a clause protecting confidentiality; all employees have an implied duty, during and after employment, to protect confidential information or trade secrets they acquired during their employment.

However, the law does not prevent ex-employees from using acquired skills or experience in new positions at new employers. Moreover, information that is not strictly “confidential” is not protected by the implied duty to keep confidential certain company information. For example, a restaurant employee may be obligated to preserve a recipe for his employer’s secret sauce. However, a sales employee may not have a duty to preserve his contacts or well-developed sales pitch that he acquired from his ex-employer at his next job.

Regardless, it is the onus of the employer to prove, based on a complicated legal test, that an employee has breached its confidentiality duties. If you have any questions concerning company confidentiality, please book a consultation. 

Health and Safety

We defend companies, directors, supervisors, engineers and workers in all Occupational Health and Safety Act prosecutions. We also assist our clients in Ministry of Labour investigations, the appeal of stop-work orders, the laying of charges and settlement.

Charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act are very serious. Directors, owners, supervisors and workers can face jail time or a fine of up to $25,000. Companies can be fined up to $500,000 and suffer the potentially devastating regulatory or tender effect of a health and safety violation.

Our counsel is a former Ministry of Labour prosecutor. We have the experience to defend all matters. Schedule a consultation today.

In addition, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires an employer to prepare and review an occupational health and safety policy in writing at least once a year and create and oversee a program to implement the policy.

Furthermore, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires an employer to enact and maintain a workplace violence policy and a workplace harassment policy.


The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) administers compensation for most injuries suffered in Ontario workplaces.

The WSIB compensates injured employees on a “No Fault” basis. This means it does not matter who caused the injury. This benefits employees because a WSIB claim is not concerned with liability if there is shared fault, unlike a personal injury claim in court.

Nevertheless, WSIB is a shield for employers to the detriment of employees. Employees cannot sue their employer for a personal injury claim in court if their employer is registered or required to have been registered for WSIB as per the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. Those employees who work for mandatory WSIB employers must claim benefits through the WSIB; they usually have no recourse in the courts, and the difference between a claim through the WSIB and the courts can be significant.

The key issues regarding WSIB claims are whether or not someone has a work-related injury, how serious the injury is, and how to accommodate or compensate for that injury.

Very few lawyers act as counsel in WSIB claims. Generally, employers and employees only attain legal counsel at the appeal stage, if necessary and where it is not cost-prohibitive for the client. The problem with the WSIB versus the courts is that WSIB claims are usually just too small.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today if you have any questions about WSIB.


Most workers must be paid and provided the minimum employment standards, including vacation pay and overtime. However, certain exceptions exist whereby it is legal for employers not to pay a worker. One such exception is interns.

Nevertheless, most individuals classified as interns are wrong. It is extremely difficult to pass the government test as to whether an individual is truly an intern. The test is as follows:

Suppose an employer provides an intern with training in skills that the employer’s other employees use. In that case, the individual will generally be considered an employee and not an intern unless all of the following conditions are met:

  1. The training is similar to that which is given in school.
  2. The training is for the benefit of the intern. They receive some benefit from the training, such as new knowledge or skills.
  3. The employer derives little, if any, benefit from the activity of the intern while they are being trained.
  4. The training only takes someone else’s job.
  5. The employer isn’t promising the intern a job at the end of training.
  6. The intern has been told that he or she will not be paid for their time.

Dutton is a winning Toronto employment law firm prosecuting intern cases. Please get in touch with us today for more information.


Everyone has the right to be free from unwelcome comments or conduct in the workplace. Several laws introduced by the federal and provincial governments protect workers from harassment in the workplace (i.e. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act) and provide compensation in case of a breach (i.e. Ontario’s Human Rights Code).

Harassment can come in many forms, including:

  • Unwelcome remarks about race, religion, sex, age, or any other grounds of discrimination;
  • Unwelcome physical contact;
  • Threats or intimidating remarks; and
  • Violence.

All employers must prepare and review a policy on workplace harassment at least once a year.

Suppose the employer or an employee of the employer is guilty of harassment. In that case, the employer can be fined, ordered to change its policies, make accommodations, and compensate the victim financially as much as $200,000 or more.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with us.

Employees in Ontario have the right to a discrimination-free workplace. This includes all areas of active employment (and the hiring and termination of employment), including wages, hours, job descriptions, assigning work, evaluations, discipline, promotion and everything else under the control of the employer or its employees.

Discrimination is very broadly defined. Discrimination in the workplace means unjust or prejudicial treatment by the employer or employee of the employer because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. Examples of discrimination cases handled at Dutton Employment Law firm include:

  • Accommodation of disabilities, parental obligations or illnesses;
  • Discriminatory drug and alcohol testing or discipline;
  • Discrimination in the promotion of female minorities;
  • Lack of work assigned due to past injury at the workplace and
  • Wrongful comments and touching of a sexual nature directed at female employees.

Individuals who have been discriminated against in the workplace are entitled to financial compensation. Primarily, employers can be ordered to compensate employees for injuries to their dignity and self-worth (usually between $10,000 and $25,000, but there is no limit). Secondly, employers can be ordered to compensate employees for money lost because of discrimination. For example, lost income or the difference in income between a job at a discriminatory workplace and a new job.

Those with questions or concerns regarding discrimination should speak to a qualified employment lawyer specialising in discrimination law in the workplace. The wrong advice could cost up to $500,000.

Please contact us for more.


Employers must accommodate their employees with disabilities, short of undue hardship. This means that, where practical, employers are obliged to permit disabled employees special treatment at the workplace or remain employed while on prolonged leave from work.

Our firm has handled such accommodations, including:

  • amending working hours,
  • providing alternative jobs,
  • furnishing special office space or furniture,
  • moving offices,
  • working from home and providing added break time.

In this regard, our firm has winning experience in professionally and confidentially negotiating accommodations on behalf of employees and employers.

We also have significant experience working with employers, insurers and medical practitioners in permitting disabled employees to stop working while continuing to receive their pay through short-term and long-term disability benefits. Our firm is one of the few Toronto employment law firms specialising in the appeal of disability claims.

Employers should also be aware that if they fail to accommodate an employee’s disability, discipline / terminate them due to disability, or treat them adversely in some way because of disability, they can be liable to compensate or reinstate affected employees. Unlike a wrongful dismissal lawsuit, in a discrimination claim at the Human Rights Tribunal, employers can be forced to rehire a terminated employee and pay them back pay, plus damages for injuries to dignity and self-worth.

Dutton is a Toronto disability law firm. Book an employment lawyer consultation today for help guide you.

Leave of Absence

In certain circumstances, employees are entitled to take an unpaid leave of absence. Note that employment insurance (“EI”), not the employer, pays the employee maternity, parental, sickness and compassionate care benefits if the employee qualifies. Some employers, however, provide their employees the benefit of topping up employment insurance during a leave of absence. This is not required, in any case.

In Ontario, as per the Employment Standards Act, all employees are entitled to take an unpaid leave of absence. This means their job is protected for when they return. If it still exists, employees must be reinstated to the same position they held before their leave or to a comparable position if not. At the same time, employees on leave continue to earn seniority and credit for length of service. Furthermore, employers must continue to provide employees on leave the same benefits (i.e. dental insurance and short-term and long-term disability insurance) they would have received had they still been working.

All employees are entitled to the following protected leaves of absence types if they qualify: pregnancy, parental, personal emergency, family caregiver, family medical, critically ill child care, organ donor, reservist, and crime-related child death or disappearance leave.

Dutton is a leave-of-absence employment law firm. Please book a consultation today if you have any questions.


Employers are free to discipline their employees however they wish. Employers are not even required to discipline their employees before they can terminate employment. Employers can fire anybody for any reason, at any time, so long as it is not discriminatory. It is only a wrongful dismissal if the employer fails to provide notice or termination pay in lieu of notice upon termination without cause.

Accordingly, employers are free to craft their discipline strategy. Most employers enforce a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) on their employees. This is a written record of discipline, warning and outline for improvement. Employees are cautioned, however, never to let a PIP lull them into a false sense of hope. In our experience, most employers use a PIP for only one reason – to pad the case should they terminate the employee for just cause. This is because, without a serious culminating incident, it is challenging to terminate an employee for just cause. The law usually requires several warnings regarding an employee’s conduct before cause to terminate without notice is justifiable.

Sometimes, however, an employee is able to claim constructive dismissal if their employer takes discipline too far. A constructive dismissal allows an employee to stop working and demand termination pay or sue for wrongful dismissal even though the employee was never terminated. In this respect, an employee may be able to claim a constructive dismissal if the employer:

  • lowered the employee’s pay;
  • changed the employee’s description;
  • demoted the employee;
  • moved the employee to a different location;
  • was overly hostile in the discipline process;
  • was unfair in the discipline process;
  • imposed a probation period, or
  • imposed a suspension.

Dutton is a top Toronto employment law firm specialising in employee discipline. Please schedule a consultation today if you have any questions.

Employment Standards

The Employment Standards Act covers most workers in Ontario. Otherwise, workers employed in federally regulated industries such as banking, telecommunications and airlines are covered by the Canada Labour Code. Both the Employment Standards Act and the Canada Labour Code enforce minimum employment laws regarding hourly wages, hours of work, public holidays and termination pay/severance, and leaves of absence, among others.

As employment standards are just a minimum, it is important to caution employees and employers alike that employees usually have significantly more recourse to sue for money through the courts rather than complain to the applicable Ministry of Labour. For example, the difference between a severance claim at the courts and the Ministry of Labour can be 96 weeks’ pay. Moreover, employees are only allowed to use a single avenue of recourse – employees cannot make a complaint to the Ministry of Labour and sue, and vice versa.

Employment standards apply differently to different workers. All employment standards do not apply to independent contractors, some do not apply to interns (i.e. minimum wages), and most do not apply to professionals and managers (i.e. overtime). In this regard, employment standards, as minimums, are there primarily to protect the vulnerable in low-wage industries.

If you are an employer, book a consultation with our employment law firm if you have any questions regarding employment standards. Otherwise, if you are an employee, we advise you to contact the free services offered at the Ontario Ministry of Labour or the Canadian Ministry of Labour to make a complaint or ask a question.

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