What is a wrongful dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal claims can arise from a number of scenarios but are usually triggered by an employee who believes they did not receive adequate notice before they lost their job, or that the severance amount from the employer was less than what they deserved, if one was offered at all.
And without a signed employment contract in place which outlines the agreed-upon termination policy, wrongful dismissal disputes may lead to a protracted period of stress and financial strains on both parties.
The Blame Game
The law is one thing. Human beings are another. There is emotion, subjective recall and any number of factors to unravel in a wrongful dismissal case.
What was done prior to the dismissal, when it occurred, who said what, how it was said, when it was said, are the many details the truth of which may differ between two parties. Both sides may feel a sense of persecution and want to ‘right the wrongs’ by going through the legal process.
Fair is fair
As difficult as it can be for someone to lose their job, employees should know that an employer can terminate an employee as long as the employer follows the minimum employment standards in BC, or adheres to the terms of the contract, if there is one.
Unfortunately, employers can make the mistake of failing to be fair and reasonable in their dismissal of an employee. They may get careless or stubbornly refuse to abide by employment standards. They may also try to claim, falsely, that the termination was one of just cause, therefore removing the obligation to pay the employee severance.
Of course, the reasons the employer gives for the just cause dismissal cannot be frivolous or arise from minor infractions. The reasons must be serious and born out with evidence, written or oral. And they need to be able to prove it in court. If they succeed, they don’t have to pay a cent in severance. Naturally, claiming just cause may be tempting for an employer who does not want to pay an employee they’ve already dismissed.
It is also possible that employees knowingly act in a way that causes their dismissal, yet still seek compensation from the employer where there is no justification for it. An employee may be so upset and worried about the loss of income from a termination, they could try to seek some compensation through litigation. However, as with the employer, they must show they didn’t do anything to justify a just cause termination.
Both parties to a wrongful dismissal claim can be at fault in some way or another. But the goal is not to tussle with the other party, but to resolve the dispute and move on.