Labour & Employment Law Blog

Getting fired during the COVID-19 pandemic

Getting fired during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you are like thousands of Ontarians who have lost their job during the COVID-19 pandemic, you must be wondering if the pandemic may have an impact on your severance package. Are you entitled to more because you lost your job in the last two years? The answer is nuanced but it may pleasantly surprise you.

In the absence of an enforceable termination clause in the employment agreement and / or a cause for dismissal, employees in Ontario are entitled to a reasonable notice of termination at common law. Simply put, you are not entitled to your job: instead, what you are entitled to is an advanced warning that your job will come to an end on a certain date in the future. If the employer fails to provide you with such a notice, you may seek compensation from the employer equaling to the number of months you should have received had a proper notice been given to you.

At this point, there are probably thousands of court decisions on what constitutes “reasonable notice.” Generally speaking, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, long-term employees can get compensation equaling up to 24 months’ pay! If circumstances are “exceptional” an employee stands to be awarded slightly more.

When deciding how much notice a dismissed employee should be getting, courts will typically look at the employee’s age, length of service, character of employment and the prospect of finding a similar job in the future. The older you are, the longer you’ve been employed, the longer it will take you to obtain suitable alternative employment or so the theory goes.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts have released a number of decisions in which COVID-19 became a factor in assessing notice. The case law is developing, however, the trend in the case law seems to be such that if you were dismissed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the court may take your dismissal date into account when determining how long your notice of dismissal should have been. Courts may want to look at evidence specific to your industry to ascertain whether your specific job would be harder to replace and, as such, your notice should be extended. Courts may also take “judicial notice” – i.e. that it is obvious that the pandemic has brought about to lack of employment opportunities and, such an instance, rigorous evidence of COVID-19 on the marketplace may not be a strict requirement.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.