Can I sue for wrongful termination?

Termination of employment is one of the most stressful experiences in a person's life. If you believe you were unjustly fired, you may wonder whether you can sue for wrongful termination. The short answer is yes, if you can prove that your employer illegally fired you.

Here are six questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if you can sue for wrongful termination:

  1. Was I given sufficient notice? Your employer can dismiss you for almost any reason, so long as it is not discriminatory. However, whatever the employer’s reasons for dismissal are, they must give you sufficient notice of the termination. A wrongful dismissal is a termination without sufficient notice.
  2. Was I dismissed for a discriminatory reason? If you believe you were fired for discriminatory reasons related to your age, race, ethnicity, gender, pregnancy, religion, sexual orientation, or another protected ground, it does not matter whether your employer gave you sufficient notice. Dismissing for discriminatory reasons is unlawful under the B.C. Human Rights Code. This is different from wrongful dismissal, and you may have both cases at once if the employer dismissed you for discriminatory reasons and did not give you sufficient notice.
  3. Was the dismissal within the limitation period? The BC Limitation Act gives you two years from the date you received notice of termination to commence a lawsuit in a wrongful termination case. If you have not issued proceedings in court before the limitation period ends, you can not sue for wrongful dismissal. The limitation period for bringing a Human Rights action is one year.
  4. Did my employer change a fundamental term of the contract? There are many ways your employer may change the terms of your employment without your consent. Often these are fundamental breaches of the employment that result in constructive dismissal. Such changes may include reducing your pay, changing your title or duties, reducing your reporting staff, changing your work hours, or creating a toxic work environment, to name a few. In such cases, you should seek legal advice immediately: putting up with the changes for too long can mean that legally, you’ve accepted the changes.
  5. Did I violate the employment contract? The employer may have cause to dismiss you if you have fundamentally breached the employment contract. This is often described as “serious employee misconduct during the employment relationship that strikes at the very root of the employment contract such that it can be said that the employment contract cannot continue or be repaired”. If you have given cause, you can be dismissed immediately without reasonable notice or severance. Often the employer claims it has cause, when in fact it does not. Even if your employer has dismissed you and alleged cause, you may still have been wrongfully dismissed and be entitled to severance pay.
  6. Did I “resign” under duress? When you resign voluntarily, you are not entitled to severance pay from your employer – this means you cannot sue employer for wrongful dismissal. However, a forced resignation, that is a form of wrongful dismissal and you are entitled to severance pay.

If you suspect you have been fired without sufficient notice, you can take certain steps to enforce your rights as an employee. If your employer will not voluntarily pay out severance pay, your ultimate weapon is to sue for wrongful termination. If you have been dismissed, experienced a fundamental change in employment terms, or are thinking about resigning, contact the experienced dismissal lawyers at Yeager Employment Law to determine if you have a case for wrongful termination.

Recent Posts

Not every employee has a written employment contract as proof of their employment. In fact, the opposite is more commonplace than most people would guess. Many employees are hired verbally, without any physical documentation outlining the terms of their employment. This is fine if everything runs smoothly in the workplace. But if it doesn’t, it […]
It’s a hotly debated and highly complicated situation when interpreting the differences between the independent contractor and the employee. They’re often swimming around in the same waters, especially in long-term arrangements where services are provided in the workplace.  On the other hand, from a legal point of view, they couldn’t be more different.   “Although […]
As mentioned in the previous article about  employment contracts and independent workers, there are many misconceptions regarding what it is that defines an independent contractor from an employee.  If your employment arrangement comes to an unhappy end and you wind up in court, the legal status of your agreement will be in question.   Employment […]