FAQs: Wrongful Dismissal, Termination and Severance

What constitutes wrongful dismissal in BC?

In British Columbia, 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. If you were fired without notice, severance or cause, you may have been wrongfully dismissed.

What are my rights if I’ve been wrongfully dismissed?

In British Columbia, an employee who is fired without “just cause” is generally entitled to notice of termination, severance pay, or a combination of both. The amount of notice or severance depends on the wording of any termination clause in your employment contract (if you have one), how long you have worked for your employer and, if no termination clause exists, factors such as your age and job position and the availability of similar employment.
How much notice of termination is an employer required to give to an employee?

The appropriate amount of notice of termination depends on various factors, including how long the employee was employed, whether there is a severance clause in the employee’s employment contract and, in some cases, other factors such as the employee’s age and job position and the availability of similar employment.

When does an employer have “just cause” for terminating an employee’s employment?

Under Canadian law, “just cause” will generally exist if an employee has been guilty of serious misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, incompetence, or wilful disobedience. Examples of such misconduct include theft and routine insubordination. Sometimes, however, even if an employee’s actions fall into one of the categories of misconduct generally recognized as amounting to cause, the employer may still not have legal “just cause” for termination. If an employer truly has “just cause” for dismissal, the employer can fire the employee immediately, without notice or incurring any severance liability.

What type of conduct warrants immediate termination of employment?

As noted above, if an employer has “just cause” for dismissal, the employer can fire the employee immediately, without notice or incurring any severance liability. Under Canadian law, “just cause” will generally exist if an employee has been guilty of serious misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, incompetence, or wilful disobedience. Examples of such misconduct include theft and routine insubordination. Sometimes, however, even if an employee’s actions fall into one of the categories of misconduct generally recognized as amounting to cause, the employer may still not have legal “just cause” for termination.