Probationary period not excluded from ESA

An Ontario Small Claims Court decision provides a timely reminder that employers and employees should take the time to properly understand their rights and obligations.

In Cao v. SBLR LLP, the plaintiff claimed $25,000 in damages for wrongful dismissal. The defendant contended that because the plaintiff was dismissed for just cause during the probation period, she was not entitled to any damages.

Ms. Cao’s 2008 employment contract included a clause making her employment conditional on satisfactory references and confirmation of plaintiff’s professional designations. During her employment with the defendant tax firm, the plaintiff had performed five tasks and received no negative feedback.

After about five weeks, the plaintiff’s employment was terminated.

Deputy Justice Z.J.C. Prattas found that “an employer is not entirely relieved of its obligations to act fairly simply because the employee is on probation,” and further, that “the onus is upon the employer to show that it has just cause to discharge even a probationary employee.”

A PDF version of Cao v. SBLR LLP [2012] O.J. No. 3328 is available through First Reference, the payroll and employment law blog:

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