In BC, employers can dismiss their employees for a variety of reasons. With cause. Without cause. With notice. Without notice. There are many words that are thrown around when it comes time to discuss termination. An employment lawyer is there to help you understand what is happening, and help guide you through the process so that you are making informed decisions.
While the employer is allowed to dismiss their employees for a variety of reasons, that termination must still be legal. If employees are not dismissed in a legal manner, this may result in a wrongful dismissal.
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel your employer has wrongfully dismissed you, we would encourage you to speak to a lawyer about your rights.
Zoe is a wrongful dismissal lawyer with extensive experience in fighting for the rights of employees across British Columbia. Please read the following to understand what constitutes wrongful dismissals and how Zoe could assist you in submitting a valid dismissal claim.
WHAT QUALIFIES AS WRONGFUL TERMINATION?
Wrongful dismissal occurs when you have been dismissed unlawfully. For example, your employer terminated you but didn’t give you enough notice or payment in lieu of it.
An employment lawyer can listen to your circumstances and give you an opinion about whether you have a claim for wrongful dismissal and what your options are for next steps.
WHAT CONSTITUTES JUST CAUSE?
If you have conducted yourself in a manner that has resulted in a material breach of your employment contract, then your employer has just cause to terminate your contract without adhering to the applicable notice period. The standard for a for-cause dismissal is really high and we recommend anyone who has been terminated for cause or for just cause to reach out to an employment lawyer before signing any documents.
Just cause is generally warranted in the following situations:
- sexual harassment; and
- poor work performance.
REMEMBERa dismissal on any of the above grounds can only be justified under serious circumstances and usually only after you have received written warnings.
If your employer is unable to justify your immediate termination on one of the above grounds, then it is likely that your termination was wrongful and Zoe can assist you in a claim for wrongful dismissal.
HAVE YOU BEEN GIVEN REASONABLE NOTICE?
In terms of the common law, if there is no just cause for the dismissal, an employer is generally entitled to choose between giving reasonable notice or paying compensation that equates to the notice period (that is payment in place of your notice).
According to the British Columbia Employment Standards Act ( the Act), if there is no just cause for the termination, then the employer must make provision for the following notice period (or payment in lieu):
- if you have worked for three consecutive months, you are entitled to a one week notice period or a one-week payment in lieu;
- if you have worked for twelve consecutive months, you are entitled to a two weeks’ notice period or a two-week payment in lieu; and
- if you have worked for three consecutive years, you are entitled to a three weeks’ notice period or a three-week payment in lieu as well as an additional weeks’ pay for each subsequent year of employment for a maximum of eight weeks.
Although the Act provides the minimum notice period, your contract can specify a different notice period. Your employer can’t stipulate less notice than what is allocated in the Act.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WRONGFUL DISMISSAL AND CONSTRUCTIVE DISMISSAL?
If your employer unilaterally alters a material term in your employment contract, and you have resigned as a result, this may amount to constructive dismissal.
Example of material changes could include:
- a significant reduction in your pay without advance notice;
- a demotion; or
- the creation of an intolerable work environment.
The material change could be an indication that the employer is hoping to avoid the consequences of ‘expressly’ terminating the employee. Thus, constructive dismissal can be considered as a form of wrongful termination which may entitle you to compensation.
To successfully claim constructive dismissal you would be required to prove that any reasonable person, in the same circumstances, would have come to the conclusion that the employer significantly altered the employment contract with the intention of no longer wanting to honor the employment relationship.
YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE BEEN WRONGFULLY DISMISSED, WHAT NOW?
If you find yourself in any of the above situations and feel as if your employment contract has been wrongfully terminated, then it is important to seek legal advice from a wrongful dismissal lawyer so that you can understand all your rights.
Zoe could help you determine whether you have been wrongfully dismissed and what the appropriate route should be pursued.
Challenging your employer on your termination can be highly stressful and decidedly intimidating. Our law firm’s objective is to ensure you can move forward, stress-free, whilst having full confidence in your lawyer to get you the best possible outcome.