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All About Terminations and Employee Rights

May 9, 2022

Employment Law & Employment Standards Act

Terminations and Employee Rights

Have you been fired, dismissed, or terminated?  Or informed by your employer that your job is about to change, or end if you do not agree to the change?  

If yes, we think you might have a bunch of questions, and we are here to help. Below are a number of informational articles to help you figure out where to start; please check these out, and then let us know if you would like our help.

We recommend reading the following articles as well in order to get a better picture of your options:

  1. How Much Severance Am I Owed?
  2. What Should I Do After Being Fired?

Can I Be Fired Even if I Did Nothing Wrong?

The short answer is yes.  Generally speaking, anyone can be dismissed from their employment at any time, even if the person has done nothing wrong.

When this happens, depending on how your employer handles the end of your employment is what determines whether any additional money is owed to you.  Please see the following articles from our resources to help you navigate what might happen next:

• What is a Wrongful Dismissal?

• What is a Without Cause Dismissal?

• How much Severance am I Owed?

However, even if you have been told the reason you are being dismissed from your job, or ‘cause’, the reason may not necessarily meet the legal test for cause; if your employer says you have been dismissed for cause, please read our article on For cause dismissals – what employees need to know.

What is A Wrongful Dismissal?

Any time an employee is dismissed form their job, without cause, and does not receive the appropriate amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice, a wrongful dismissal has likely occurred.

If you are unsure whether you have been dismissed from your job with or without cause, please see our sections below about What is a without cause termination? and For cause dismissals – what employees need to know, respectively.

If you think you have been wrongfully dismissed, please see our article on How much severance am I owed.

What is a Without Cause Dismissal?

A without cause dismissal includes most types of terminations that are not formally noted as being ‘for cause’.  If your employer says you have been dismissed for cause, please read our below section on For cause dismissals – what employees need to know.

Importantly, a without cause dismissal and being dismissed from your job without being given a reason are not the same thing.  Your employer is not obligated to provide you with a reason for your termination, nor is being given a reason the same as being dismissed for cause.

If you have been dismissed from your job without cause, you may be entitled to severance, depending on what amount of severance, notice period, or pay in lieu of notice, your employer has offered you.

For Cause Dismissals – what Employees Need to Know

If your employer ended your employment ‘for cause’ or ‘with cause’, your ability to pursue a claim for severance is likely to be impacted.  However, just because your employer provided you a reason for your dismissal, does not mean your dismissal was either properly or formally for/with cause.

In order to a cause dismissal to have been done proper, your employer will likely have needed to satisfy many steps along the way.  Some of the steps employers should take usually include:

• providing formal warnings, usually in writing;

• providing you with an opportunity to correct or change the actions your employer takes issue with; and,

• taking steps to help you improve in the areas your employer says you are coming up short.

When cause dismissals are not handled correctly, the employee’s ability to pursue compensation is available.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, there are a few instances where a for cause dismissal can occur on a single incident; while courts will evaluate these incidents on a case by case basis, you can think of single incidents which properly amount to cause as those in the hand-in-the-cookie-jar types of transgressions, and including acts like theft and sexual misconduct.

If you have been told your dismissal was for or with cause, and would like to speak with us about it, please let us know.  In order for us to properly evaluate your situation, we will ask you for:

• your employment agreement/contract;

• the termination letter you received; and,

• any and all documentation relating to written warnings, employee improvement plans, and progress reports your employer may have provided to you.

My Job Position is being Eliminated or Significantly Changed, Now What?

If your position is either being eliminated, or changed so much that it now seems like a different job, you might be considered as being constructively dismissed.

In the most basic sense, a constructive dismissal can usually be said as having occurred anytime an integral or fundamental component of your job is changed in a non-minor way.  You can think of integral or fundamental components of your job as including your:

• duties;

• dollars; or

• hours.

It is important to note that not all changes to your job scope will meet the legal test for a constructive dismissal.  Minor changes, or changes that would reasonably be understood as being within the type of job scope for your position are unlikely to meet the legal test.  However, and as a guide-post only, a change of 15% or more to any of the above three factors is likely to be seen as a strong indication of a constructive dismissal.

Regardless of whether your position is being eliminated or markedly changed, whether you are being or have been constructively dismissed is something that should be assessed on a case by case basis.  If you would like our assistance in evaluating your situation, and knowing your option for the next steps, please feel free to be in touch with us.

Employment Lawyers Advising Workers

Our experienced employment and labour lawyers are here to support you and walk you through every step of the way. We know workplace issues are hard on everyone, and are ready to help you navigate these difficult times. If you have any questions or need assistance please reach out to our team by submitting a Contact form.

Author

FAYME K. HODAL

Lawyer

Fayme K Hodal and her team assist clients with all Employment law matters, including wrongful and constructive dismissals, dismissals for cause, executive compensation and buy-outs, and negotiation of severance packages.

Fayme has extensive experience working with individual, business and corporate clients throughout British Columbia and Alberta. She regularly advises on civil disputes of all varieties and prepares coverage opinions relating to private insurance disputes.

Fayme also assists clients with privacy law and defamation questions.

Fayme is a life-long West Coast local; she obtained her...

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