The common misconception about wrongful dismissal is that it happens when your employer terminates you without a good reason. In reality, wrongful dismissal occurs, not because the employee is terminated without cause, but because the termination occurred without any advanced notice.
In non-unionized employment, an employer can terminate an employee with or without a valid reason or “cause”. If there is no cause, the employer may terminate the employment relationship, but must provide the employee with reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. The minimum statutory notice to be provided to an employee who is terminated without cause is set out in the employment standards legislation which can be anywhere between 1 to 8 weeks depending on the length of the employee’s employment history. However, under common law, an employee may be entitled up to 24 months of notice.
Spotting Wrongful Dismissals
A wrongful dismissal can happen in two ways.
The first way an employee may be wrongfully dismissed is when their employer terminates them without giving reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. If the employer fails to provide reasonable notice or adequate severance pay, the employee may have grounds to pursue a wrongful dismissal claim against the employer.
The other way an employee may be wrongfully dismissed is when the employer inappropriately terminates an employee “for cause”, but the “cause” is unjustifiable. When an employer alleges cause for terminating the employer relationship, the termination is effective immediately without an obligation on the employer to provide the employee with advance notice of termination or a severance package. By unjustifiably claiming cause for termination, an employer is depriving the employee of the opportunity to receive advance notice of termination or pay in lieu of notice. However, whenever an employer alleges that it had cause for ending the employment relationship, it bears the legal onus or burden of establishing that the termination for cause was justified.
What do I do if I think I’ve been wrongfully dismissed?
Unsure if you’ve experienced wrongful dismissal or if you’re entitled to additional compensation? In our experience, most wrongful dismissal claims settle relatively quickly. The majority of wrongful dismissal matters are settled with the employee receiving a cash settlement during negotiations after a demand letter from a lawyer has been sent – without the need for the employee to commence legal proceedings against their employer. If your employment has recently been terminated and you would like legal advice about your rights, contact Labour Rights Law today to set up an initial consultation. Our knowledgeable lawyers can review your case with you, provide you with an assessment that will allow you to make an informed decision about how to proceed.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this article, and this website generally, is not intended as legal advice and cannot be relied upon as legal advice. To provide legal advice on your problem, a lawyer must first understand your specific situation.