Focus On

Wrongful dismissal - Constructive dismissal - Change to job content or status - Humiliating treatment - Employee’s duty to mitigate - Alternative or comparable employment - Reasonable efforts

Thursday, September 01, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Appeal by the defendant, the City of Toronto, from a wrongful dismissal judgment in favour of the plaintiff, Maasland. The plaintiff worked for the City for 25 years until her termination in 2014. She had a degree in engineering science and held progressively senior positions with the City in transportation management. In 2014, the City reorganized its transportation group. The plaintiff was transferred to another unit within the group. Her job title, work location, salary and benefits did not change. Her duties changed substantially, from mainly operational to mainly administrative. The plaintiff did not work after April 2014, claiming she was constructively dismissed. In December 2014, the City terminated her employment. The plaintiff sued for wrongful dismissal. The trial judge found in favour of the plaintiff, awarding 26 months’ notice. The judge found no failure to mitigate losses by the plaintiff. The City appealed.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Ample evidence justified the trial judge’s conclusion that the City’s treatment of the plaintiff during the reorganization was humiliating, and that it was reasonable for her to consider the employment relationship as irreparably damaged. The judge did not err in finding it was reasonable for the plaintiff to decline consideration of an employment possibility 50 kilometres from her home. There was no basis for interference with the judge’s conclusion that the plaintiff’s planned attendance at a trial involving the murder of her brother did not constitute a failure to mitigate her losses.