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Can I sue my former employer in court?

Question
Can I sue my former employer in court?

Glossary

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015
Answer

If you left your job or got fired, you might have a claim against your employer. And you might have the option of suing your employer in court.

But if you're a unionized worker, you can't sue your employer in court. Talk to your shop steward or union representative about what to do. You have rights in your collective agreement.

Choosing court or the Ministry of Labour

If you're trying to get wages that an employer owes you, you can't sue in court and make an employment standards claim to the Ontario Ministry of Labour. You have to choose one or the other.

The Workers' Action Centre has a fact sheet called Court or the Ministry of Labour? that has basic information about these options and the differences between them.

Some of the differences are:

  • how much work you have to do
  • how easy or complicated it is
  • costs
  • financial risks
  • how long you can expect the process to take
  • what you can claim
  • who can make the employer pay if you win

It's important to get legal advice before you decide what to do.

Choosing which court

If you're suing an employer for $25,000 or less, you do this in Small Claims Court.

If you want to sue for more than $25,000, you have to do this in Superior Court. It's very hard to do this without a lawyer. If you want to sue in Superior Court, you should try to get legal help If you have a low income, you might be able to get help from Pro Bono Ontario.

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