Kitchener-Waterloo·Hard at Work

Office administrator says she was let go twice, wasn't given a reason

Lisa Downs is asking the Ontario government to do more to protect employees after she was terminated without cause twice.

CBC's 'Hard at Work' series examines what problems workers in Ontario face today

Lisa Downs was terminated without cause from her last two jobs, and she says the Ontario government needs to do more to protect employees. (Graphic: CBC News/Photo: Lisa Downs)

Lisa Downs wants the province to do more to protect workers from being terminated without cause, after she was let go from two different jobs, which forced her and her husband to sell their family home.

Downs says she was let go from positions working with two different property management companies, and wasn't given a reason in either case. 

As part of our Hard at Work series, we're looking at how employees in Ontario could benefit from changes being considered to the Employment Standards Act. CBC first told you in February about the changes that could overhaul workplace rules in Ontario. Since then, thousands of people have commented on the stories and hundreds more have written to us with their workplace horror stories.

Downs' first position was working as a regional administrator for Greenwin, a property management company.

"I was there for two-and-a-half years, and there's all of sudden three of us on one given day that were told we were let go," she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's Craig Norris on The Morning Edition on Wednesday.

According to Downs, the company said there were downsizing, and that's why they let go three people.

"However, we were replaced. One of us was replaced the next day, and then shortly thereafter, the other two were replaced in the days coming, so it wasn't really a downsizing exercise at all, as far as I was concerned."

Calls and emails to Greenwin weren't immediately returned.

'Devastated and angry'

"I was devastated and angry," she said.

"We all started at the ground level, and there was a lot of changes that we went through, and construction of the building, and tenants that were upset at a lot of things were going on that we undertook and then we just start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and then they let us go."

Lisa Downs wants the Ontario government to do more to protect employees after she was fired twice without being given a reason. (Lisa Downs)

Towards the end of January of 2016, Downs got another job working for another property management company.

She had completed her 3-month probation period. "Then all of a sudden one day I was told I was let go, and I asked why. I said, 'I don't understand,' and my boss at the time really couldn't give me an answer. She said, 'I don't know.' None of it made sense to me," said Downs.

Downs suspects she was let go because she had to leave work one day when she was having chest pains related to an ongoing lung illness, and was taken to hospital.

She said she was let go ten days after that, in the middle of May.

Lost her house

"I was devastated, I lost my house," said Downs, who was unable to get a letter of employment to help re-finance her mortgage. She and her husband put their Brantford home up for sale, and moved to a trailer park in Bayfield, a two-hour drive away from her family.

Downs provided CBC copies of her employment contract and her termination notice.

She has launched a human rights complaint against the second company, which she asked CBC not to name until the Ontario's human rights tribunal rules in the case.

"I think certain steps need to take place, either a verbal warning, followed by a written warning, followed by something else," said Downs.

"If it doesn't work out, then A, you know why you were let go, because obviously you didn't improve what they were talking to you about, or B, if they do let you go, give you a reason, allow you the opportunity to grow from your mistakes or whatever it is you're doing wrong, so you don't repeat it at the next job," seh said.

"I think they need to be held accountable for their actions, just by saying you're not a good fit, I don't understand what that means," she said.

Are you a worker who could benefit from changes to Ontario's employment laws? Are you an employer concerned that the changes could harm your business? Send us an email to tell us your story.