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I've been fired. Does my employer have to give me a reason?

Question
I've been fired. Does my employer have to give me a reason?

Glossary

Clear language definitions to common legal terms. 

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Reviewed: 
September, 2015
Answer

No, your employer does not have to give you a reason.

But in most cases, if you're fired your employer must give you a written notice of termination.

And in some cases, they can fire you without giving you notice.

Why employers don't give reasons

Employers often fire people without telling them why.

There are some reasons employers cannot use to fire workers. If an employer fires you for one of these reasons, they’re breaking the law.

If your employer doesn't give a reason, they're less likely to say something that you could use to prove that they fired you for a reason that's against the law.

Reasons that are against the law

Rights that are part of the Employment Standards Act

The law says your employer cannot fire you for doing something that the Employment Standards Act (ESA) says you have the right to do.

Some examples of rights that are in the ESA include:

  • taking pregnancy or parental leave and returning to your job at the end of your leave
  • asking about your rights or asking your employer to obey the law
  • refusing to sign an agreement that affects your rights, for example, an agreement about how you will be paid for overtime
  • making a claim against your employer with the Ministry of Labour
  • giving information about your employer to an Employment Standards Officer from the Ministry of Labour

Human rights

Your employer is breaking the law if they fire you for a reason that goes against your human rights. For example, it is against the law to fire you because of:

  • your race, colour, ancestry, ethnic origin, citizenship, or where you were born
  • your religious beliefs
  • a physical or mental disability that you have, including an addiction
  • the fact that you have children, plan to have children, or are pregnant
  • your marital status, for example, married, divorced, single, or living common-law
  • your sex or gender
  • your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression

Other rights

It's against the law for your employer to fire you because you asked about a health or safety issue at work. For example, you asked for details about chemicals used in your workplace or refused to do unsafe work.

It's also against the law for your employer to fire you because you did something that laws to protect the environment say you have the right to do. For example, you have the right to ignore your employer’s orders to break these laws.

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