If you have been fired from your job and believe it was a wrongful dismissal, you need to know your rights, which are protected by both federal law and the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia. These are measures put in place to hold employers accountable in the event of wrongful dismissal if they do not follow the guidelines for terminating an employee.
What is Wrongful Dismissal?
The law in British Columbia generally allows an employer to dismiss an employee for any non-discriminatory reason, provided it is done lawfully. Many assume that a wrongful dismissal occurs when they are fired for the wrong reason. However, wrongful dismissal refers to an employee being dismissed or fired without receiving advance notice of their termination, or payment in place of notice (severance pay). Typically, it occurs in one of the following fashions:
- The employee is terminated without cause and the employer fails to provide a severance package. In a termination without cause, a company may dismiss you for any reason, provided they are not violating your human rights and they award the necessary compensation.
- The employee is terminated improperly for cause and without severance pay. In this situation, the employer believes they have cause to dismiss you without paying severance. It is very rare for an employee’s conduct to warrant firing for cause, meaning that more often than not, this is the wrong decision on behalf of the employer.
- The workplace may become unbearable to the employee as a result of changes to key aspects of employment. This may include a temporary layoff, which is a complete reduction of work hours.
Wrongful dismissal or wrongful termination should not be confused with unjust dismissal, which generally refers to a claim for job reinstatement, which is reserved for federally regulated employees.
What Can You Do In The Event of Wrongful Dismissal?
If you have never been fired from a job before, you may be unsure of what to do. There are several potential steps that you should consider:
- Work Out a Fair Settlement With Your Employer in Person. The ideal is to resolve the issue with your employer. If your employer is willing to meet, schedule a meeting to go over the relevant details of your situation. If they are unwilling to meet with you, you can seek out the assistance of an employment lawyer. If they continue to refuse to meet with you, you may choose to proceed with a lawsuit.
- Request That Your Former Employer Provide a Written Statement. You can ask your former employer to provide a statement detailing why you were dismissed. You should expect a reply within 15 days of making your request.
- Visit Your Local Employment Standards Branch of BC.If you feel that you have been wrongfully dismissed, you have 90 days from the date of dismissal to file a complaint, which should be made either by yourself or a representative (such as a lawyer).
- File a Wrongful Dismissal Lawsuit. Initiating such action may prompt your former employer to settle with you before your case heads to court.
- Seek Another Means of Dispute Resolution. On occasion, the court will refer a case for arbitration or mediation. Mediation can be a good alternative means of resolving the dispute, rather than dealing with a time-consuming court case. A neutral mediator will be assigned to chair the process. Arbitration is a similar process, but one that offers more flexibility.
Being let go from a job is never a pleasant experience, but if you were wrongfully dismissed, it’s important to be aware of your rights in order to protect yourself. For more information on how to respond to wrongful dismissal, contact us today and we will be happy to assist you.