Being let go from a job is – to put it mildly – a challenging experience. Suddenly, facing short notice, you need to find some other means of supporting yourself (and your family) financially. That may mean throwing yourself back into the job hunt, taking on further debt and suffering through an emotionally tumultuous transition period.
On top of it all, there’s a lingering question in the back of your head: is what your employer did right? Were they allowed to dismiss you in that manner? If not, do you have any recourse for compensation?
That’s precisely the subject of this article – wrongful dismissal. How is wrongful dismissal defined, and how can an employment lawyer like Soni Law Firm help?
Defining This Breach of Contract
Before any attempt to define “wrongful dismissal,” it’s important to note that labour laws and employment standards vary between states and provinces. That said, there are distinct similarities too. Therefore, take these definitions as a guide – a jumping-off point before you research granular local laws.
Dismissal Without Cause
There’s a common misconception that employers cannot dismiss without cause. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Employers can dismiss you for any reason they wish, provided that it is lawful (legal and non-discriminatory). They can dismiss you for looking at them the wrong way!
But here’s the catch: they need to either provide you sufficient notice of dismissal or,in lieu of notice, a severance that represents sufficient pay. In other words, they can’t fire you tomorrow without paying for your inconvenience.
Dismissal with Cause
Employers can get around paying you severance or giving you sufficient notice if the termination is “with cause.” But cause is hard to prove. You had to have done something really wrong, like assault or fraud, to be let go with cause.
If you were terminated with cause, but you didn’t do anything seriously negligent, you may have grounds for wrongful dismissal action.
One final point to explore is “constructive dismissal” (sometimes called constructive discharge).If your employer changes your shifts, reduces your compensation, slashes your hours or unfairly moves your work location, this may constitute constructive dismissal.
When your employer negatively changes your working conditions, it can be difficult to know if your rights are being breached, or if they are exacting power within their rights. If you are unsure, speak with a constructive dismissal lawyer.
Wrongful Dismissal Action: What You Can Do
It’s tempting to take the first severance package your employer offers, or to grit your teeth and move on with finding new work. But don’t trust that your employer will provide you with what you are entitled to at the time of your dismissal.
Instead, speak with an employment lawyer about your options. Employers must provide reasonable notice of dismissal or fair compensation packages. If you feel that your employer offered you neither of these, then take action. If your employer has fired you with cause, but you believe the cause isn’t warranted, take action. And if your employer has changed your working conditions in a negative way, take action.