Additional duties lead to constructive dismissal

Employer increased employee’s workload; employee fired after refusing to continue with increased role
By Ronald Minken
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 09/03/2014

When we think about a situation that leads to a finding of constructive dismissal, it is usually a situation where something has been taken away from an employee, such as key responsibilities, job title, or a reduction in earnings. However, in Damaso v. PSI Peripheral Solutions Inc., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice determined that an employer who added duties to an employee breached the terms of the employment agreement, resulting in the constructive dismissal of the employee and an award of 12 months notice.

Otoneil Damaso was hired by PSI Peripheral Solutions — a developer of engineering solutions for office printing and distribution centres in Mississauga, Ont. — for the positions of field service technician and computer technician. His duties and responsibilities were clearly set out in writing at the time of hire.

Damaso’s employment continued for the next 10 years. However, changes to the business were required over time and in response to the economy. In Damaso’s tenth year of employment, the employer added to his existing duties the role of IT administrator but did not provide Damaso with any additional financial compensation.