Wrongful Dismissal – Terrace Style
Is an employer entitled to fire an employee – even a “good” employee? The general rule, surprising to many, is “yes.” If, however, employers are entitled to fire, what is wrongful dismissal? Wrongful dismissal occurs when the dismissal is without cause or without adequate advance notice. In other words, an employer is entitled to dismiss an employee where there has been serious misconduct. An employer is also entitled to dismiss after giving either advance notice or severance pay in lieu of notice.
Most employers know that they are entitled to fire for cause – but some stretch the term “cause.” For example, when times are tight, employers sometimes cut back on staff to bring their costs into line. While we can certainly sympathize with the financial squeeze faced by many employers these days, the business problems of the employer do not, in fact, constitute “cause” for dismissing employees without proper notice. Even employees dismissed during an employer’s restructuring are entitled to advance notice or severance pay in lieu of notice.
In the 2010 case of Lewis v Terrace Tourism Society [2010 BCCA 346], Ms. Lewis was an employee of the Terrace Tourism Society. The society employer lost its funding source and decided to cease operations. While the society seemed to recognize its obligation to provide severance pay, the disturbing reality for Ms. Lewis was that she had not yet received any offer of severance pay when the society began to dispose of its assets. She took defensive action – including starting proceedings in Small Claims Court for wrongful dismissal. The British Columbia Court of Appeal held that she was entitled to take such action and was entitled to severance pay.
Article provided by Centennial Law Corp.