I recently read this article in the Financial Post on when an employer and demote you with impunity and couldn’t help but think of a number of  “Constructive Dismissal” conversations we’ve had with some of our past recruits.  The term Constructive Dismissal has been overused by a number of people and its definition has been bent and shaped to suit many different arguments.  The fact of the matter is that you can shape it’s definition all you like but in the end the courts have the final say.

I’m not going to get into specific examples of Constructive Dismissals or case reviews but I will share some advice the questions you should ask prior to taking a leap into the courts.  In the event of a fundamental change of your employment that you feel has induced you to quit your job, first consider the following:

  1. Keep your reaction and emotions in check:  Listen to what your employer has to say and offer while keeping in mind that you don’t need to provide an answer right away.  It’s important to keep things in perspective, if the company is going through changes and they’re offering you a different role, it’s likely a sign that they value you, your skill set and are looking for a way to keep you on board.
  2. Get advice from legal and HR professionals: You need to ascertain that the proposed changes are fundamental to your situation.  I’m not qualified to tell you what is or isn’t a fundamental change but there are plenty of Labour Lawyers that would welcome your call and provide you with the right legal advice.
  3. Think of the impact:  If you were to quit, what would be the impact on you, your family, your finances, your stress levels and your health benefits etc… .  You must also consider the long term as it may take years before your case gets through the courts.  Not only will you have to find a new job, you will also have legal bills to pay and the stress associated with the legal proceedings that may drag on and on.
  4. What happens if you lose:  In the event that you lose your claim of Constructive Dismissal, you’ll have to absorb not only your own legal costs but potentially those of your former employer.  Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

So remember:  Don’t react too quickly, get advice, determine the impact and consider what would happen if you lose your legal battle.  Make sure you’re asking all the right questions.