Naturally, as wrongful dismissal lawyers, we always encourage employees to seek legal advice following termination. However, we also believe in educating our clients so they feel empowered in the workplace.
For those of you who have recently been fired or who simply want to understand your rights when it comes to termination, here are the basics on wrongful dismissal:
- An employer can dismiss any employee she chooses so long as the reason does not violate human rights or employment-related legislation and (unless the employee was fired for “cause”) the employee receives adequate notice of dismissal or severance.
- Employment contracts can be written or oral. Written agreements will often contain a clause detailing what happens if your employment is terminated, and specifically, how much severance you will receive.
- Regardless whether your contract contains a termination clause, you are entitled to a specified amount of notice or pay in lieu under the Employment Standards Act(again, assuming you were not fired for cause), depending on how long you worked for your employer.
- If there is no severance or termination clause in your employment contract, you are also entitled to “reasonable notice” under the common law doctrine of “wrongful dismissal”. What is “reasonable” notice will depend on your particular circumstances, including your age, job position and length of service and the availability of similar employment.
- Determining “reasonable notice” is an art, not a science: unfortunately, two judges faced with your same fact scenario might award you different amounts of severance. Employment lawyers know this, which is why many employees and employers often reach a settlement agreement without ever going to court.
- If your employer did have cause to fire you – for example, because you committed theft – he does not have to give you any notice of your dismissal or pay you any severance in lieu of such notice.
Have questions about a recent dismissal? Contact us!