Being dismissed from a job can be a difficult experience, made worse when you feel that it has been done unfairly or that you have been fired unjustly without reason. As an employee in BC, both the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia and federal law offer you protection, holding employers accountable when they don’t follow the guidelines for termination. If you feel you have been fired unjustly, who should you contact? How do you proceed in this situation?
What is Wrongful Dismissal?
There is often some confusion about what constitutes wrongful dismissal. While you may feel that any dismissal is unjust, wrongful dismissal typically occurs in one of three ways:
- Your employer terminates you without cause and fails to pay a severance package,
- Your employer terminates you improperly for cause and with no severance, or
- Your employer changes a core aspect or condition of your job or makes the workplace unbearable for you.
Termination without cause, despite the name, may occur for several reasons and your employer is generally entitled to dismiss you for any reason that is non-discriminatory. This may occur with layoffs, or with the relocation or restructuring of the company. When this occurs, the employer must provide severance pay. It may be wrongful dismissal if the severance pay is not the proper, fair amount.
Being dismissed improperly for cause sometimes occurs when an employer thinks they have a valid reason for firing you, without giving severance. While there are some cases where an employer is justified in firing an employee without severance, it is a comparatively rare occurrence, with an employee’s conduct rarely becoming so severe that this is necessary.
Changing aspects and conditions of your job so that it is no longer bearable, effectively forcing you to leave, is known as constructive dismissal. These changes might include a complete reduction of your work hours, sudden demotion, or not being paid the agreed amount. An employee has the right to refuse these changes, treating them as termination. They may then pursue full severance pay.
What Can You Do?
Most employees can tell if they are being treated unfairly by their employer. If you feel that this is the case, it is important that you do not sign any severance agreement until it has been examined by an employment lawyer, even if your employer has given you a deadline to do so. This is often an attempt to pressure you into accepting before properly reviewing.
Wrongful dismissal cases can be more complicated than they appear. Your employer may be misapplying the laws willfully, or due to not understanding them correctly. Whatever the case may be, you are entitled to proper compensation for lost wages, benefits, vacation pay, and more. The best way to ensure that you receive it is to consult with an experienced employment lawyer who can review your case and offer you their expert advice.
If you feel that you have been fired unjustly, don’t wait to take action. Contact Hillside Law in Penticton today to discuss starting a claim for wrongful dismissal.