Losing your job is hard, especially if you did nothing to warrant being let go. Left feeling like you’ve had a rug suddenly pulled out from under you? Thousands of hard-working Albertans from all walks of life and different occupations have experienced what you are going through now. We know this because we’ve recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for people wrongfully dismissed from their jobs. Wondering what qualifies as a wrongful dismissal? In most cases it means that your boss or company fired you without having any legal reason to do so, or they failed to provide adequate notice or severance. The good news is that Alberta’s employment laws are designed to protect your rights. Wrongfully fired from your job? Wondering if you received a fair severance package? Looking for answers about Employment Law in Alberta? We can help. Our Calgary Wrongful Dismissal Lawyers will explain the laws in a way that is easy to understand and focus on what matters most to you – your rights. At Litwiniuk & Company, you get a caring team who will always put your needs first and guide you through the process to help make it stress-free.
Fired. Released. Made Redundant. Terminated. Downsized. Let Go.
Whatever your former boss or HR representative wants to call it, you have lost your job. It’s normal to feel shock, frustration, and worry about the future. Take a deep breath. Don’t feel pressured to sign or agree to anything from your former employer. If you need to spend a day or two in sweatpants processing what happened, that’s okay. HelpGuide.org has some great tips to help you cope and manage your stress after losing your job. When you are ready, call an experienced lawyer to find out exactly what your rights are. Worried you won’t be able to afford a lawyer? At Litwiniuk & Company, we always provide free consultations and we never bill by the hour. And if you do choose to file a claim through us, we don’t get paid until you get paid.
Be wary of signing anything that takes your rights away from you.
- DON’T sign anything right away. Your former employer may try to pressure you into signing non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. Or they may ask you to sign a ‘release’ that is disguised as a severance offer which they threaten to revoke unless you sign immediately.
- DO tell your employer that you would like to take some time to review the document and have it looked over by a lawyer before you sign.
- DO consult an experienced employment lawyer before you accept a settlement offer or sign any documents from your former employer. An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you whether the offer is fair considering your employment history with the company.
If you have already signed a document or release for your company, but you were unaware of what you were signing or forced or coerced into signing, you may still be able to make a claim. Contact us as soon as possible to find out.
Know Your Rights: What Constitutes Wrongful Dismissal?
If you’ve recently lost your job, we encourage you to seek legal advice as soon as possible. An experienced Wrongful Dismissal lawyer will be able to help you get a clear picture of what your options are and help you decide what to do next. Our first priority at Litwiniuk & Company is to help you to understand your legal rights. In Alberta, your employer must abide by the rules of the Employment Standards Code and Alberta Human Rights Act. This means that unless your former employer has sufficient or just cause for your immediate termination, they must give you reasonable notice of dismissal and pay you in accordance with Alberta’s employment laws and severance policies. Here are some common examples of wrongful dismissal:
- Your employer changed the terms of your contract without your agreement;
- Your employer is making false allegations against you or lacks just cause for your dismissal;
- Your employer failed to pay your severance or provide reasonable notice before firing you; or,
- Your employer hasn’t paid you for your time or earned vacation pay.
If you were wrongfully dismissed, you may be able to claim financial compensation under at least one of the following categories:
Reasonable Notice – In Alberta, employers must give written notice of termination to any person they have employed for 90 days or longer. The length of the notice period increases based on the number of years that person has worked with the company. Employers do have the option to terminate your employment immediately, so long as they pay you an amount equal to what you would have earned if you had continued to work for the notice period – this amount is commonly referred to as severance pay. Alberta’s Employment Standards Code lays out the minimum legal notice requirements, under Section 56:
- 1 week, if you have been employed for more than 90 days, but less than 2 years
- 2 weeks, if you have been employed for 2 years, but less than 4 years
- 4 weeks, if you have been employed for 4 years, but less than 6 years
- 5 weeks, if you have been employed for 6 years, but less than 8 years
- 6 weeks, if you have been employed for 8 years, but less than 10 years
- 8 weeks, if you have been employed for 10 years or more.
Keep in mind that these are minimum notice periods. You may be entitled to extended severance pay based on a number of factors, including your:
- Job description
- Length of employment
- Ability to find similar employment in your field
- Salary or wages
Extra Compensation – Additional compensation may be awarded for mental distress caused by a wrongful dismissal or termination that was humiliating or cruel.
Punitive Damages – In some cases, the courts may decide that a deterrent or punishment is necessary to prevent the employer from wrongfully dismissing their employees in a ‘malicious or outrageous’ manner. This is more common in the United States than Canada.
Knowing and understanding your rights can mean the difference of thousands of dollars or more in your pocket. If you have questions about your severance package, or wrongful dismissal, call or email us today to speak with one of our Calgary Wrongful Dismissal lawyers. We’ll evaluate the circumstances around your dismissal to determine if it’s worthwhile for you to make a claim. We believe in complete transparency, meaning that if it’s not in your best interest to pursue a claim, we’ll tell you.
Note: If you were part of a labour union and you feel that you were dismissed unfairly, you will need to contact your union representative directly.
What qualifies as just cause for dismissal?
If an employer can prove just cause for dismissal, they are not legally required to give a termination notice or pay severance. But employers must be able to provide clearly documented evidence to support just cause for termination. In order to fire someone with just cause, the employer must have a legal reason or have given repeated warnings to the employee prior to termination. While the specifics vary greatly, the most common reasons for a just cause dismissal often include:
- Theft or fraud
- Serious misconduct in the workplace
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work
- Violence or harassment towards others in the workplace
- Chronic absence from work without a reasonable excuse
Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. The burden to prove just cause for termination is on the employer and does not consider things like poor work performance or occasionally showing up late – unless this behaviour is ongoing, and several documented warnings were given prior to dismissal. If you were fired and your employer is alleging just cause, our Calgary Wrongful Dismissal lawyers can help you determine whether you have the grounds to make a claim.
In Alberta, you generally have up to two years from the date of a wrongful dismissal to make a claim in court or your right to do so is lost forever. But it’s important not to wait as there may be other important deadlines, or other circumstances that may affect the deadline or your claim. If you have any questions about the limitation period for your claim, call or email us for a free consultation with one of our Calgary Wrongful Dismissal Lawyers today.
Our Calgary Wrongful Dismissal Lawyers are here for you.
Whether you were wrongfully fired, or you are unsure if you received a fair severance package, or if you should sign a release from your employer, or you are looking for answers about Employment Law in Alberta, we are here to ensure you are protected and give you peace of mind. We understand how overwhelming it can be to navigate the complex world of employment law while also worrying about where your next paycheque will come from or if you will be able to find employment in your field. Litwiniuk & Company Law Office has served the Alberta since 1976, providing exceptional service and legal representation for thousands of Albertans in Calgary, Edmonton, and across the province. We are passionate about balancing the power for employees across all workplace-related legal matters to make sure you are treated fairly. You don’t have to go through this alone. Our team is here to answer your questions, support you through this difficult time and, most importantly, listen to you. Have questions? Give us a call or email today.