What is the Duty to Mitigate in Employment Law Cases?

Having your employment terminated can be a terrible blow, not just to your confidence and self-image, but financially as well.  If you have lost your job but your employer has not paid you what you’re owed under the law for severance, or other obligations, you can bring an action in the court system to be made whole.

One of the most common types of employment law claims are wrongful dismissals.  These claims centre around the allegation that your employment was terminated without cause and you were not provided the appropriate severance payment in light of the following considerations:

  • The terms of your contract 
  • Your age
  • The nature of your position
  • Your length of service 
  • Your remuneration or pay 

The amount you are owed for a wrongful dismissal will vary depending on these considerations. However, you are not entitled to simply sit on your hands and await payment of damages from your previous employer. There is an obligation on you to mitigate the damages flowing from your termination.

The Duty To Mitigate

In a wrongful dismissal case you have an obligation to take reasonable steps to mitigate your damages. What this means is that you must take reasonable steps to find new and comparable employment once terminated.  While a Court will award you damages in lieu of pay for severance payments that you should have received from your former employer, they will not reward a plaintiff who makes no attempts to lower the severance payable by finding new commensurate employment. While a Court won’t allow an employer to shortchange you, they will also not force an employer to pay money to a former employee who has done nothing to secure new employment.

How Do I Prove I Looked For Jobs?

So how do you prove to the Court you attempted to mitigate your damages by looking for alternative employment? In the digital age this is much easier than it used to be. Quite often job postings, applications, interview confirmations, and rejection or acceptance letters are communicated by email, which makes tracking your efforts fairly straightforward.

A good rule is to have one master document that records all the jobs you’ve looked at/applied for from the date of your termination until the resolution of your claim.  This can easily be done in a Word or Excel document, or something similar.  It is important to keep the dates of each application recorded in this document.

How will Accepting a New Job Affect my Claim?

Accepting a new position at a new employer could end up entitlement to damages for your wrongful dismissal depending on several considerations, most importantly the terms of your employment agreement.

Employment Lawyers

If you have a wrongful dismissal claim and require assistance or are looking at accepting a new position, you should talk to an experienced employment lawyer before making any decisions.

Contact the employment lawyers at Taylor & Blair LLP today for help.