Dilanka’s Case: Employment Law, Unjust Dismissal, and The Canada Labour Code


Dilanka was working in inventory control for a large Federally regulated employer. He was highly dedicated and conscientious, always looking for work and opportunities to grow in the company. His performance appraisals were glowing. Dilanka’s efforts were recognized with promotion and assignment to important projects, yet he hadn’t advanced as far as he thought he should have. When a new supervisor came in, Dilanka suddenly received his first negative review. This came as a shock. He complained without success to human resources and senior management. Soon thereafter, his employment was terminated. The company said they were going through a restructuring and Dilanka’s position, along with that of other employees, was being eliminated.

Dilanka filed a complaint of unjust dismissal under the Canada Labour Code. The complaint is heard by an Adjudicator and differs from a court action, in that reinstatement can be ordered for an improper termination. Here, the employer argued that elimination of Dilanka’s job and others showed the termination was made for a proper purpose. They also argued that a severance payment made showed that the termination was not unjust.


Dilanka had been dealing with the complicated claim himself but found the process overwhelming. I became involved at that point, and requested the company’s employment file and documents on the reasons for termination. The hearing before the Adjudicator was coming up soon. After reviewing the circumstances with Dilanka and researching the important legal issues, I prepared an Arbitration Brief for the Adjudicator to read before the start of the hearing. It was clear that, whoever lost, the case could be headed for higher appeal courts. The employer’s argument could have serious implications for the unjust dismissal remedy in the Canada Labour Code.


After a lengthy and exhausting process for Dilanka, on the eve of the hearing before the Adjudicator, the employer agreed to resolve the matter on terms that Dilanka was prepared to accept. He had shown courage in standing up for his convictions.