Labour & Employment Law Blog

When Notice is Insufficient

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

The Superior Court of Justice recently revisited the issue of what constitutes “notice of termination” and found that notice must be “clear and unambiguous” in order to suffice. Although this is by no means “new law,” the issue is worth revisiting as reasonable notice is a staple of employment law.


The Plaintiff—a very sympathetic 71 year-old immigrant—had been employed by the Defendant for 12 years as a security guard. On November 24, 2014, the principal owner of the Defendant gave notice to the Plaintiff that, as a result of restructuring, the Plaintiff’s services would no longer be required as of January or February of 2015. The Plaintiff continued to work for the Defendant until July 24, 2015, when he was officially terminated and given a Record of Employment. The Plaintiff sued for wrongful dismissal and for damages from the mental distress he experienced as a result of the termination. He won on both grounds.


Employers must provide clear and unambiguous notice in order to fulfill their duty to provide reasonable notice. In this case, the court found that the employer had not provided reasonable notice despite the fact that they notified the Plaintiff on numerous occasions that his employment would be terminated as a matter of course. The Court found that the Defendant was unclear in respect of the specific date of termination. Moreover, the Plaintiff continued working for the Defendant for over 5 months after he was told he would be terminated. Coupled with the fact that many of the Plaintiff’s colleagues were offered employment by the Defendant elsewhere, the Court found that “A reasonable person might well conclude that, based on the Defendant’s actions, his employment would continue.” As such, the Defendant did not fulfill their duty to put the Plaintiff on proper notice so that he may begin looking for another job. Further, the Court found that, by failing to give the Plaintiff fresh notice and severance, the Defendant acted unfairly and in bad faith, and was therefore responsible for moral damages.

This decision highlights the importance of providing clear and decisive notice when seeking to terminate the employment agreement, especially when dealing with vulnerable employees. Failure to do so will expose employers to liability not only for wrongful dismissal, but also for moral damages for bad faith and unfair conduct. For employers experiencing a restructuring where a high volume of employees may be terminated or offered new employment contracts, it becomes even more important to ensure the proper due diligence has been conducted.

See: Bertram Thambapillai v Labrash Security Services Ltd. 2016 ONSC 6068

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.