A letter of reference is a key term in a wrongful dismissal matter. It would be prudent in most situations to include the actual letter as a term of the settlement. Attach it as an appendix, along with a provision that the oral references are consistent with the content of the reference letter. In some situations, it is stipulated that the oral references are confined to what is stipulated in the reference letter. This way you have made the reference letter and the oral references an actual term of the settlement.
It is not uncommon for an employee to sign an employment contract prior to commencing new employment without speaking to legal counsel first.
Fast forward five years and the employee is now terminated without cause and the severance package is either limited to the termination provisions in the employment contract or a couple of extra weeks are offered in exchange for the employee signing a Full and Final Release. This scenario even occurs with senior level employees.
Many employees believe that the reference contained in the termination provision in an employment contract that they are being paid in accordance with the employment standards legislation of the province of Ontario covers their rights. The statutory amounts are the minimum amounts that you are entitled to. Employees are not aware of their rights to damages in lieu of reasonable notice at common law which exceeds their statutory entitlements.
If you have signed an employment contract that contains a termination provision, you are in a much different position on termination than the employee who has not signed an employment contract. The employment contract is drafted by the employer and therefore, it is for the employer’s benefit.
Consult with legal counsel prior to signing an employment contract whether it is given to you prior to commencing employment, on the first day of your employment or anytime during the course of your employment.