Given the unprecedented disruption wrought by COVID-19 in Ontario and around the world, both employers and employees may be asking themselves the following questions: 1. what is the difference between a layoff and being dismissed?; 2. does an employer have a statutory or common law right to lay off an employee absent a contractual provision explicitly or implicitly permitting layoffs to take place?; and 3. can an employee claim that a “layoff” is really wrongful dismissal and seek damages?
People often err when looking at the amount of damages a court will award for wrongful dismissal. They sometimes presume that the maximum damage awards are set in stone. As the case we review below will demonstrate, there are times that the courts are so troubled by the conduct of employers that new records are set in damage awards. So let’s talk about the firing of a Rabbi by a synagogue.