Wrongful Dismissal and Illegal Requests from an Employer

Any employer who demands an employee commit an illegal act under threat of termination is liable for wrongful dismissal damages. Naturally, the courts confirm that employees do not have to blindly follow unreasonable orders, especially those illegal in nature. Some courts may wish to punish employers found to be guilty of such acts, which is good news for the employee.  However, the employer still has the right to appeal any decision made in a court of law.


Wrongful Dismissal- A Judge’s Ruling is Questioned


Take the example of a case where the employer, a property management firm appealed a wrongful dismissal case where the employee was awarded damages. The employee was directed by his employer to enter an apartment, remove the tenant’s belongings and change the locks. The employee knew that this was an illegal act, refused to comply and was fired for insubordination. He filed for wrongful dismissal and was awarded damages that more than tripled any amount he would have received according to his employment contract. The judge acknowledged this, but decided that the underhanded actions of the employer nullified the contract.  He awarded the employee further punitive damages as a result.


Wrongful Dismissal- The Employer Appeals the Decision


Not only did the employer command the employee to do something illegal, they were fully aware it was illegal. Council for the employer protested the opposite, making various claims that were disproved by the evidence presented. There was no doubt that the property management company was informed by an arbitrator that the tenant was protected under the Residential Tenancy Act. It was made very clear to the employer that they were not allowed to enter the premises or remove the tenant’s belongings.  The employer disagreed with the outcome of the arbitration and tried to convince the court that the actions they wished to carry out weren’t illegal. This attempt to overturn the wrongful dismissal ruling was unsuccessful; not only in the first case but in their appeal as well.


As it was determined that the actions were illegal and the employee was wrongfully terminated, the appeal was allowed by the courts only in part. The employer argued that the notice awarded the employee was too much and in direct conflict with the employment contract. This part of the appeal was allowed to examine whether or not the employment contract itself was legal and if the previous damages awarded were in conflict with that.


Wrongful Dismissal- The Employment Contract Takes Precedence


While the employer was still guilty of wrongful dismissal, the employment contract was found to be a valid and legal document. As a result the decision of the previous judge was overturned and the damages awarded to the employee were reduced to comply with the conditions in the contract and the Employment Standards Act.


Has your employer has requested you to carry out questionable or illegal actions? Would you like to learn more about wrongful dismissal? Please contact Wrongful Dismissal Lawyer, Bob Yeager.


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