Employment Law and Wrongful Dismissal

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Employment Law and Wrongful Dismissal

Employees who are dismissed may be entitled to considerably more than the minimum provided by the Employment Standards Act, which provides minimum standards for wages, overtime, and termination. Under common law employees may be entitled to reasonable notice upon dismissal.

Some employees have valid and enforceable written employment contracts that specify the notice they are entitled to upon dismissal. Many employees do not.

Unless an employer can establish just cause under common law, an employer may be liable for damages measured by reasonable notice or the written employment contract. The reasonable notice is decided on the facts of each particular case, having regard to the character of the employment the length of service of the employee, the age of the employee and the availability of similar employment, having regard to the experience, training and qualifications of the servant.

Employment law is constantly changing and developing. Courts have increasingly recognized the importance of the employment relationship as an essential component of a person’s identity, self-worth and emotional well-being, resulting in longer notice periods and, in some case, punitive damages. In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that there is an organizing principle of good faith governing contractual performance. Parties generally must perform their contractual duties honestly and reasonably and not capriciously or arbitrarily.

Ib-2I provide experienced, strategic, practical and cost-effective advice with respect to the employment issues, including:

  • employment contracts, including severance or termination provisions, salary and benefits, restrictive covenants and confidentiality agreements;
  • employment policies, including workplace safety, privacy, harassment and discipline;
  • express or constructive dismissal;
  • just cause for termination, notice requirements and damages; and
  • review for compliance with employment standards and other employment related legislation.

In more than 25 years of practice, I have represented clients in settlement negotiations, in employment and wrongful dismissal litigation before employment authorities, administrative tribunals and all levels of courts, in BC and other provinces.

The obligation of good faith and fair dealing is incapable of precise definition. However, at a minimum, I believe that in the course of dismissal employers ought to be candid, reasonable, honest and forthright with their employees and should refrain from engaging in conduct that is unfair or is in bad faith by being, for example, untruthful, misleading or unduly insensitive. (Wallace v. United Grain Growers Ltd. [1997] 3 S.C.R. 701 (Supreme Court of Canada))