Can an Employer Terminate an Employee Who is Ill?

| Wednesday, September 30th, 2015 | No Comments »

Question:

I was fired through email, while undergoing cancer treatment!  I believe I was let go because I had to undergo surgery which would have left me unable to work for at least 4-5 months, plus ongoing treatments.  I was never written up or given any kind of warning for bad work, which would have led to me being fired.  I worked at this establishment for over one year.  What are my options?

Answer: 

It could be that there were legitimate reasons for making a decision to terminate that were completely unrelated to your cancer treatment, however, the timing certainly raises suspicion and is a cause for concern.   Under human rights legislation, you have a right to reasonable accommodation, including the right to take the time off that you need for cancer treatment without fearing that you will lose your job because of it.   If you believe your employer fired you because you are ill and are/or will be unable to work, you have recourse.  In Ontario, you may bring an application to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to seek compensation for the breach of your human rights.  Through the Human Rights Tribunal, you may have a range of remedies available to you, including compensation for lost wages, damages  for the discrimination that you experienced, and potentially reinstatement back to your job.  In Ontario, you can also seek financial remedy through the courts by way of a civil suit.  You should speak to an employment expert about your rights and which option may be most appropriate in your circumstances.

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