What is Wrongful Dismissal?
If you’ve been terminated by your employer, or just want a clear understanding of your rights when it comes to wrongful dismissal law in BC, you’ve come to the right place.
We always encourage employees to seek advice from an experienced legal team that specializes in employment law; however, we also like to educate our clients so they become more familiar with key terms to gain a broad understanding of laws surrounding wrongful dismissal claims.
What is Wrongful Dismissal?
A wrongful dismissal occurs when an employee is terminated by their employer without being provided any reasonable notice.
Generally, there are 3 types of wrongful dismissal scenarios:
- An employer terminates employment without cause and refuses to pay adequate compensation.
- An employer terminates an employee for cause and fails to pay compensation.
- An employer alters terms and conditions of employment and ‘constructively dismisses’ an employee by creating a hostile, toxic and intolerable work environment — resulting in the employee being forced to resign from their position.
If you are an employee in BC, your rights are protected by both the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia and federal law — however, it is important to note that a wrongful dismissal claim does not occur simply because an employer has terminated an employee for an illegitimate reason. For example, an employer may have terminated an employee for financial reasons, when in fact there is no basis for doing so.
An employer does not legally have to be completely honest with their reasons for termination, as long as they have just cause to terminate or provide reasonable notice of termination or salary in lieu of notice.
The notice period an employee is entitled to will vary depending on these factors:
- Length of employment
- Age of the employee
- Type of position (including salary)
- Availability of similar employment in the job market at the time of termination
What is ‘Just Cause?’
Under Canadian law, an employer can legally apply just cause termination in the event of serious employee misconduct such as theft, sexual harassment, dishonesty, conflict of interest, incompetence, insubordination, and other types of highly inappropriate conduct during employment. Some “just cause” actions are easier for an employer to prove than others.
Under these circumstances, an employer can terminate an employee immediately without any requirement to provide:
- Reasonable notice
- Severance pay
- Pay in lieu of notice
Proving Wrongful Dismissal
The first thing you will want to do is prove that you were an employee of the company.
Generally, this can be done by providing:
- Your letter of termination
- Your Record of Employment (ROE)
- Pay stubs
- Proof that you were terminated without adequate notice.
Moving forward, your employer must prove that you were dismissed for ‘just cause.’
Do Not Sign a Severance Offer
When you are terminated, your employer may offer you an exit agreement and or offer you a severance package to sign off on, with a short deadline. If you feel you have been wrongly dismissed, do not sign a severance offer before speaking to an employment lawyer. Your employer cannot legally impose a deadline on your full severance entitlements.
Legally you have 2 years following termination to receive your severance pay — if you sign off on a severance package from your employer, you have also signed away your right to pursue legal action for severance pay under common law.
Timeline for Filing a Wrongful Dismissal Case in B.C.
To file a claim under the B.C. Employment Standards Act, you have 6 months from the termination date. To sue your employer, you have 2 years from the date you were let go. This goes for employees who work full-time, part-time, or an employee on probation
Contact A Trusted Employment Lawyer
If you feel you may have been wrongfully dismissed, it is important to obtain legal advice as early as possible. If you or someone you know has experienced a wrongful dismissal, Tim Louis Law is here to help. We are on your side and will fight hard to ensure that our clients receive full compensation. For more information or to set up a free consultation with Tim Louis & his compassionate, trusted team of experts, call 604-732-7678 or email firstname.lastname@example.org