Legal Q&A - What Is Contructive Dismissal?

Legal Q&A - What Is Contructive Dismissal?

Dear Advice,

My wife has been a faithful employee for a large company that has recently been purchased by a major competitor. Slowly, earned benefits such as vacation time, employer pension contribution amounts have been amended downward and possible travel to a new work location (over 60 Km) from the present workplace is a distinct possibility.

My question is, can the new employer do this arbitrarily or is this constructive dismissal on a large scale?

Your advise would be appreciated.



Your wife is experiencing the plight of many Canadian employees, some as result of their employer being purchased and some while working with the same company.
Small changes are not a constructive dismissal. However, if the employer makes a number of small changes which, taken together, represent a fundamental change in the terms of employment, then that employee has been constructively dismissed.

With respect to the move to a new location, it really depends on the nature of employment, the nature of the employer, the previous understandings and the salary.

If the employee is in a position or company where transfers can be expected, then it is not a constructive dismissal. If the employee is at a wage rate where a move of 60 kilometers would represent a very large expense, then it would. If the employee is in the type of position where they access public transport to work and would not reasonably be expected to have their own vehicle, again it more likely would. Every situation must be looked at individually. 60 kilometers is really on the borderline for most cases.

- Howard

For more information or to arrange a telephone consultation or a visit to our offices in Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver, please visit