In short: no.
Although it can be frustrating for employees, Ontario employers are under no obligation to give a reason after terminating an employee. In fact, Ontario employers do not need a reason at all to end an employment relationship and, therefore, are not required to prove that the employee did something wrong to explain why they were fired. Instead, an employer simply must provide the employee with reasonable notice.
That said, there is nothing stopping an employee for asking for a reason.
While no reason is needed, there are some unlawful reasons for termination. Only in very particular circumstances will a termination be unlawful, sush as:
- for retaliation for insisting on your Employment Standards Act entitlements;
- for a reason which is discriminatory under the Ontario Human Rights Code; or
- for asking about a health and safety issue or refusing to do unsafe work.
If you think you’ve been fired unlawfully, you need to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Brandishing proof of these allegations is often difficult and nearly impossible if not acted upon quickly.
Its often better to give no reason at all when firing an employee without cause. If you say nothing, you are less likely to say something that you could later be used against you to prove that the reason for termination was unlawful. Typically, its untrained or under-trained managers that get businesses in trouble at termination time. I urge you to reach out to me to get details on the services we offer to employers, including management training sessions that covers the dos and donts of termination.
Contact Justin W. Anisman
Justin W. Anisman is an Employment Lawyer at the Toronto law firm Brauti Thorning Zibarras LLP. Justin advises both companies and individuals in all aspects of employment law including wrongful dismissal, human rights and discrimination.