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:
If you were wrongfully dismissed, you may be able to claim financial compensation under at least one of the following categories:
- 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.
– 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
– Additional compensation may be awarded for mental distress caused by a wrongful dismissal or termination that was humiliating or cruel.
– 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.