Importance of Wrongful Dismissal Settlement

Being dismissed from employment is likely one of the most stressful events you'll experience.  This is especially so when the dismissal itself is wrongful, acrimonious, or comes with allegations of poor performance or wrongdoing.  By the time a dismissed employee meets with an employment lawyer, they may be feeling either fearful of the process entirely, or angry enough to launch a lawsuit immediately.  We'd like to suggest that you first consider trying to obtain a wrongful dismissal settlement.

Before we start: if you sign a Release, you may not be able to pursue negotiation or court judgment for wrongful dismissal.  To maintain your rights, it is imperative that you meet with an employment lawyer before signing any termination Release from your employer.

Some employers truly do need to be sued right away.  If your employment lawyer has prior experience with the employer or its lawyer, they may be able to advise you about how the employer can be expected to behave – if it’s going to be a waste of time to try and negotiate with the employer, then sometimes jumping straight to litigation is the right thing to do.

In most cases, the best starting point is an attempt to settle the wrongful dismissal.  This process starts when your lawyer sends a strongly-worded "demand letter" to the employer.  The demand letter is designed to put your case in its best light, so that the employer is prompted to settle with you instead of losing in court.

A good employment lawyer will have a high settlement rate.  They'll be able to explain to you what you can expect in the wrongful dismissal settlement process.  In our experience, most wrongful dismissal cases in BC can and should be settled without resort to litigation.  Here’s why:

  • The terms of settlement are in the control of the parties, and not a judge – this means there are no surprises in settlement.
  • The parties can agree to keep the settlement confidential, and not to make negative comments about one another.  These are not included in a court judgment.
  • Once you have the settlement cheque the money is yours, risk-free.
  • A settlement can be structured to reduce taxation, unlike a court judgment which is taxed at the statutory lump sum rate of up to 30%.
  • There’s no more duty to mitigate, meaning you can stop recording your steps to search for work and start working toward your best career move.
  • You can stop paying legal fees!
  • You can stop focusing on your negative experience with the old employer, and start focusing on your future – with the helpful financial contribution of the old employer, of course.

Unfortunately, even the best employment lawyer cannot force an unwilling employer to settle. Negotiation and settlement of wrongful dismissal claims are always voluntary, and some employers will refuse to negotiate as a policy or out of pure ill-will.  Where the employer refuses to agree to a reasonable severance package, or will not negotiate at all, then you still hold the ultimate weapon of suing for wrongful dismissal.  Whether you choose to sue for wrongful dismissal is entirely in your control.

Your employment lawyer should discuss with you the details, advantages, and disadvantages of settlement versus going to court so that you have the knowledge you need to make the choice that’s right for you.  You should be cautious of lawyers who encourage you to sue before making a reasonable attempt at settling.  The choice to sue is entirely yours to make, and it should be made after careful consideration of all the options.

At Yeager Employment Law, we’ve been helping employees get great settlements longer than any other employment lawyer in Vancouver.  Trust our knowledge, experience, and expertise – give us a call today to speak with one of our friendly employment lawyers and learn about your rights as an employee.

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