When a large firm goes under, employees often get caught in the undertow. That’s apparently what happened to legal assistants formerly working for a now defunct Toronto law firm. The firm Heenan Blake LLP wound down its affairs earlier this year and several former legal assistants and other employees have launched claims alleging breach of contract after they were left without severance pay and medical benefits.
The firm terminated some 200 employees during the month of February 2014. One of the suits alleges that the plaintiff, a 61-year old woman, was assured in January that her job was safe – only to receive a termination notice on Valentine’s Day.
Some plaintiffs are suing for being fired without notice.
What’s the Deal?
In all cases, it will boil down to what the termination provisions were as laid out in their respective employment contracts. Termination is a standard provision and is likely to be the same for a class of employees, or perhaps for those hired within certain time periods.
- What did the contract say about notice of termination?
- What provisions were there for severance compensation?
- What did it say about group benefits?
Even in the absence of a specific employment contract, provisions of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act may also come into play. For instance, in this case, since the firings involved hundreds of people, there are mass termination provisions which may apply that require that the company provide 12 weeks’ notice.
Your Employment Contract
As the case illustrates, any employer/employee relationship can go south and when times are tough, your rights are often the last thing on the company’s mind.
The provisions of your employment contract can be your only assurance that those rights are protected. No one wants to think about termination when you’re just starting the job but the provisions for termination are important and should be very carefully considered.
We can help
- Let our experienced employment contract/breach of contract lawyers help you make sure that you know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.
- If you are in an unfortunate situation and your employer is not upholding their end of the deal, you need someone in your corner.
You’ll need the help of experienced breach of contract lawyers. If you think your rights under a contractual agreement are being disregarded contact Petrillo Law today or call us (905) 949-9433 for a free consultation with an experienced contract lawyer. We look forward to hearing from you.