Have You Received a Warning from Your Employer That You Feel is Unjust? Here’s What You Need to Know

Written by on September 10, 2019 in Employment Law Blog, Employment Law Issues


Employers in Canada are entitled to use progressive discipline in the workplace, which means taking gradual steps that increase in severity to maintain company standards and expectations. Progressive discipline includes having in-person meetings and distributing formal warning letters to employees who are not performing up to standards or who are straying away from expectations.

If you have received a warning letter from your employer, you will have to question if the warning is just. Were you late to work multiple times over the past few months? Have you refused to take direction from your Director? Have you been treating your colleagues poorly? Under certain circumstances, a warning may feel unwarranted and if you feel that you have received a warning that is unjust, here’s what you need to know.

Warnings Can Lead to Termination

Any warning, whether you feel it is unwarranted or not, must be taken seriously. As part of the progressive discipline process, warnings can eventually lead to termination. In fact, employers may not be able to legally terminate you without showing that they have provided you with chances to improve. After receiving several warnings, your employer may have just cause to dismiss you. This is why it is important to refrain from ignoring or avoiding the warning you were given. Analyze it and try to truly understand if it was warranted.

Dispute the Warning

The Canada Labour Code outlines three main reasons for progressive discipline. They include incompetence (the employee does not have the correct skills for the job), negligence (the employee possesses the skills needed but employs them carelessly), and misconduct (breaking rules clearly set by the company and explained to the employee).

If you receive a warning that you do not believe you deserve, you can dispute it in person or in a written letter. When you receive a warning during an in-person meeting, you may be tempted to defend yourself instantaneously. This is only recommended if you are able to think rationally, soundly, and without emotion.

In a follow-up letter, you may state why you believe the warning was unwarranted or unjust. Use concrete examples as proof and include paper documentation.

Consult an Employment Lawyer

Disputing an unjust warning from your employer can be stressful, overwhelming and intimidating. You believe you were wronged but lack the legal knowledge and confidence to move forward. In this situation, it is encouraged to consult a Canadian employment lawyer for professional guidance. They can assist you in writing your dispute letter and defending your position should the dispute get denied.

Minken Employment Lawyers was established in 1990 and has been providing legal defence and guidance to employees in the Greater Toronto Area for over 30 years. We have the experience and expertise to ensure you’re treated fairly by your employer. Send us a message or give us a call at 905-477-7011 to set up your consultation.

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