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Nelligan O’Brien Payne gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Daniel Hunter, Student-at-Law, in writing this blog post.

The immediate aftermath of a termination is a turbulent time, and some employers may try to use this to their advantage. Therefore, it is important that you understand your rights.

Here are five things to have in mind immediately following a termination:


1. Don’t Sign Anything Without First Speaking to an Employment Lawyer

When you’re being terminated, you will often find yourself in your employer’s Human Resources office, with HR and sometimes your immediate supervisor or manager present, informing you of their decision to terminate you. At the same time, they generally provide you with a letter confirming your termination, in addition to a severance package with strict deadlines (anywhere from 2 to 7 days is common) by which to sign a Release in exchange for a sum of money, often as a requirement to receiving any money.

These deadlines and tactics are common. However, it’s important that you understand that employer set deadlines are generally not strict deadlines. It is typical to request an extension of the deadline in order to have your severance package reviewed by an employment lawyer; employers typically grant reasonable requests for an extension.

Our team of industry leading employment lawyers are available for last minute consultations. We’re prepared to meet with you as soon as possible, even as soon as the same day that you call our office seeking a consultation.

Please note that if you sign a Release prior to meeting with us, there is often nothing we can do. For this reason, you should not sign anything before speaking with an employment lawyer.

We have the know-how and resources to support you at times when options seem few and far between.

2. Collect all Relevant Documents Right Away

In order to properly assess your situation and provide you with advice, an employment lawyer will need to review all documents relevant to your employment. These may include:

  • Your most recent employment contract and/or offer of employment;
  • Terms and Conditions of Employment;
  • A confidentiality, non-solicitation or non-competition agreement;
  • Any employee handbook that might form part of your employment contract and/or offer of employment;
  • Your performance evaluations, at least over the last few years; and
  • Documents relating to payment structures – including commission and bonus plans.

These documents help define the employment relationship and help your lawyer determine what you are entitled to on termination. If you’ve misplaced any of these documents, it’s important that you request these from your former employer – you are entitled to a copy of these documents.


3. Schedule a meeting with one of our Employment Lawyers

At Nelligan O’Brien Payne, we boast one of the top employment law practice groups in the country. We have the know-how and resources to support you at times when options seem few and far between.

Contact a member of our group to schedule a meeting to review your severance package as soon as possible. Our lawyers will provide you with competent and practical legal advice. We will explain what entitlements you might have, your likelihood of success and provide realistic expectations of what it might cost you to pursue your rights against your employer. The most important thing that we do is to provide you with options, both legal and practical, given your unique situation. We will not push you into litigation, and only recommend that course of action should negotiations fail and there is no other way to obtain what is owed to you.

You are the ultimate decision-maker; we are simply here to give you the information that you need to make an informed decision.


4. Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

Don’t forget to register with the EI office as soon as you’ve been terminated (or, at the very least, within 4 weeks). EI requires immediate registration following termination, even if it will be some time before you are eligible to receive benefits, failing which there can be loss of EI coverage. Recall that EI benefits only begin once the value of time of any notice, severance and/or reasonable notice period has expired. Find more information on EI here.


5. Keep Notes of your Search for New Work, aka Mitigation

It’s important to take steps to mitigate your loss. When you’ve been terminated by your employer and you will not simply be accepting the first offer made to you on termination, your need to start looking for new work and keeping a log of your search efforts. The law requires a terminated employee to seek out reasonable opportunities for re-employment. This does not, however, mean that you must take any job or that you’ll need to relocate unnecessarily. Our team can help guide you through what mitigation may be required in your circumstances.

These are just some of the things you will need to consider following a termination. For more information, please contact our Employment Law Practice Group today.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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