Employment Law

Employment Law

Whether you are let go or want to get a new job, losing your employment can be extremely stressful, and it impacts you and your family both emotionally and financially. Our team will assist you by providing prompt advice as to your rights and entitlements in the workplace and provide you with your options, whether that is direct negotiation or taking court action.

Our experienced employment lawyer, Matthew Yates, handles all aspects of Canadian employment law for both employers and employees, including claims for:

  • Wrongful dismissal
  • Constructive dismissal and workplace harassment
  • Unreasonable severance packages
  • Workplace discrimination and BC Human Rights Tribunal claims

Termination for Cause

We have represented parties where the employee is fired without notice when the circumstances did not justify it. The law in British Columbia is quite strict in what an employer must prove to justify dismissing an employee without notice or severance. Only grave misconduct or serious issues of substandard performance with repeated warnings and opportunities to improve will justify a termination for just cause. We have negotiated fair and reasonable severance packages on behalf of many clients in these difficult circumstances. The majority of these claims are settled without going to court.

We have assisted in many cases where the employer has not followed proper procedures in ending an employee’s employment. If you have been fired or laid off, or are about to be, we can help determine if you are entitled to compensation for wrongful dismissal and explain the proper legal steps to take to recover it.

Likewise, we can provide crucial advice to employers who want to ensure that they deal with their employees in a fair and lawful way. Starting out with a clear employment agreement and human resources policy can save an employer substantial legal expense down the road.

Constructive Dismissal

Changing the working conditions or job description can amount to a wrongful dismissal. This is also called “constructive dismissal.” An employee is constructively dismissed when the working conditions are changed so drastically that it becomes impossible for an employee to continue. These changes to working conditions can include:

  • Demotions or changes to employment duties/responsibilities
  • Changes to pay/benefits or working hours
  • Workplace harassment or toxic working environment
  • Changes in the location of work, e.g. forced relocation to another city or province

In such circumstances, the employee can often quit and sue for constructive dismissal. It is important to speak to a lawyer about whether or not the change in circumstances is such that an employee is justified in leaving their employment and making a claim for constructive dismissal.

Severance or Pay in Lieu of Notice

Employers will often claim the only amount they have to pay is what is set out in the Employment Standards Act. We have found that employees are often entitled to many times more than these amounts, especially if they have been long-term, loyal employees. We can review your severance package and advise whether it is fair and reasonable.

Human Rights Contraventions in the Workplace

An employer cannot discriminate against an employee for reason of gender, sexual preference, race or disability.

We have dealt with BC Human Rights Tribunal complaints where an employee is terminated while they are sick or disabled. Sickness can include physical or mental illness, such as chronic pain and depression. In many circumstances, the employer has a duty to accommodate, and failure to do so can amount to either wrongful dismissal or a human rights violation.

This is a difficult area of employment law and it is important that employers and employees alike consult a lawyer for advice in their particular case.

Bad Faith Dismissal

The Courts in Canada have recognized that losing your job can be a traumatic experience. For that reason, employers have a legal duty not to act in a harsh, dishonest or insensitive manner when firing an employee. We have assisted many clients in securing additional compensation where their employer has breached its duty of good faith in the course of dismissal.

Please give us a call to learn more about how we can help with employment law issues.