Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal occurs when an employer makes a fundamental change to your employment. As a result of this significant change an employee has the option to declare their employment terminated, even though the employer has not expressly done so. Minor changes to the employment relationship often do not qualify as constructive dismissal.

This is a complicated area of law that requires careful analysis, and which demands a swift response by the affected employee. 

Tips for dealing with constructive dismissal:
  • Obtain prompt legal advice. If you delay in responding to a potential constructive dismissal situation, you may be deemed to have accepted the employer’s changes by your inaction.  
  • Do not accept the employer’s changes to your job. Formal acceptance removes your ability to assert a claim for constructive dismissal.
Common Examples of Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal comes in many forms. Some common examples of constructive dismissal are:

  • Elimination or reduction in wages, salary, commissions, bonuses or other employee benefits
  • Forced geographical relocation
  • Workplace harassment and discrimination
  • Demotion
  • Temporary layoffs
  • Hostile or unsafe working environments
What are the consequences of Constructive Dismissal?

If you elect to pursue a claim for constructive dismissal your damages are generally identical to what you would have received had the employer wrongfully terminated your employment. In some situations, such as harassment, you may be able to claim additional aggravated or punitive damages. You may also have a complaint to bring before the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

What are the risks of making a claim for Constructive Dismissal?

A constructive dismissal claim is not to be taken lightly. 

Pursuing such a claim often requires that you resign from your job and pursue formal legal action. This carries risks, the most obvious being an immediate loss of income. The legal process can be lengthy. If you are wrong and the Court does not agree that you were constructively dismissed, you will receive nothing from your employer. It is important to receive advice from an Employment Lawyer to fully understand these risks and to outline a strategy to address constructive dismissal.   

Your Next Steps

Please contact our Intake Specialist at or 780-669-4542 should you require assistance with an Employment Law matter.

Case Study

Our client worked for nearly two decades with an Alberta based employer. Halfway through his employment, he entered an arrangement to work remotely from his home in the Maritimes. This remote working agreement was successful for many years. The employer then abruptly decided that it no longer wanted this employee to work remotely and demanded that our client immediately commence working at its Edmonton location. The employee retained our services and we commenced litigation against the employer alleging constructive dismissal due to the forced relocation being a breach of the employment contract. Ultimately, we were able to settle our client’s claim with the employer.