This legal concept is often misunderstood.
Someone whose employment has been terminated, regardless of the reason or reasons, has a legal duty to act reasonably. He or she must attempt to secure alternative employment in order to try to “mitigate”, or limit or reduce the economic loss he or she is experiencing as a result of the termination. The law seeks to compensate the terminated employee over what is determined to be a reasonable period of notice, but only to the extent that the individual actually sustains economic loss.
In other words, the object of the law of wrongful dismissal is to keep the individual “economically whole”, as if he or she had been afforded the opportunity to work through a fair notice period. The goal is not to reward the individual for past service or contribution, but to assist in bridging the person to new employment.
This obligation to try and mitigate the economic loss arising from a termination without cause is one of the cornerstone concepts of the law of wrongful dismissal, and one which does not always receive appropriate prominence.
Mitigation also arises in constructive dismissal situations.