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Time’s Up: Covid-19 Limitation Freeze Lifts Today: March 25, 2021

Guest
March 25, 2021

Legal claims in BC are subject to strict time limits under the Limitation Act.

The majority of legal claims – including for wrongful dismissal – must be filed with the court within two years of when your cause of action arose (usually, the employee’s termination).

Due to the state of emergency prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, limitation periods in BC have been suspended (or ‘frozen’) since March 26, 2020. The suspension applied to all civil proceedings in BC courts (the Provincial Court, Supreme Court, and Court of Appeal), including employment-related claims.

Note that some employment issues – such as human rights, employment standards, and occupational health & safety issues – have separate time limits. This article does not discuss those.

A few examples of how the suspension will impact the limitation period for court claims include:

·         If the limitation period expired before March 26, 2020, then the limitation remains expired.

 

Example: Terry resigned from her employment because of a major demotion and bullying manager on April 5, 2017. Chatting with a friend in April 2020, she realizes that she may actually have been constructively dismissed, and could sue her employer for damages. However, Terry’s limitation period expired on April 5, 2019 – she is unfortunately out of time to bring her claim.

 

·         If the limitation period would normally have expired between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021, or your cause of action arose before March 26, 2020 and would normally have expired after March 26, 2021, then one year should be added to calculate your limitation date.

 

Example: Suji was fired from her employment on May 5, 2018. Her employer says it was for cause. Suji disagrees, and wants to file a wrongful dismissal lawsuit. Normally, Suji’s limitation period would have expired on May 5, 2020. Because of the suspension, Suji’s limitation period will not expire until May 5, 2021.

 

Example: Suji was fired on June 1, 2019. Normally, Suji’s limitation period would expire on June 1, 2021. Because of the suspension, Suji’s limitation period will not expire until June 1, 2022.

 

·         If the cause of action arose during the suspension (between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021), the limitation period expires on March 26, 2023.

 

Example: Moe was terminated from his employment on April 1, 2020. Normally, Moe’s limitation period would expire on April 1, 2022. Because of the suspension, Moe’s limitation period will not expire until March 26, 2023.

 

Contact us for further advice on your claim!