Where an employer has changed the terms of employment without notice to or without consent from the employee, then the employee may be able to resign from such employment and pursue common-law entitlements (see Wrongful Dismissal). The law of constructive dismissal in Ontario is unsettled. Employees considering resigning their employment should consult with counsel prior to doing so.
Unilaterally imposed compensation reductions and re-location of the workplace are common examples of fundamental breaches of the employment relationship giving rise to an employee claim of constructive dismissal although not every pay reduction or office move will breach the employment relationship. The employee’s conduct following such unilateral changes can have a significant impact upon and may even extinguish that employee’s ability to resign from employment and successfully allege constructive dismissal. There is also case authority for the proposition that an employee may be required to continue in a position of employment properly offered by an employer following the unilaterally imposed change. Employees should consult with counsel as soon as possible following a significant change in the terms of their employment and before resigning such employment. Employers should consult with counsel prior to implementing any significant change to the terms of employment or as soon as possible upon learning of a prospective allegation of constructive dismissal.