At our Calgary employment law firm, we see termination and dismissal cases daily. Although these terms sound quite distinct, they are interchangeable and both define the end of an employment relationship.
Can employment termination be a good thing?
Although the word “termination” sounds inherently wrong, the process of ending these relationships can be positive and mutual from both the employee and the employer’s perspective. In many cases, retirement is an excellent example of an employee voluntarily ending their professional role. Although their employment is “terminated,” both the employee and the employer are on the same page.
Ending an employment relationship is often one-sided
Unfortunately, when it comes to many cases of dismissal and termination, the decisions are unilateral, and the employee is left in a vulnerable position.
In our practice, we usually see the choice to sever the employment relationship taken by the employer alone. Employers are unexpectedly dismissing staff members, opting to use language like packaged out, let go, laid-off or fired. But regardless of what lingo the “Boss” chooses to use, the outcome is still the same.
If your employment relationship is coming to an end or has recently ended, you may have some questions about the process. We have compiled a list of some of the more common forms of dismissal and termination we see at our Calgary law practice.
Remember, as an employee or even if you are a former employee – you have rights in the workplace. Let our team of dedicated employment lawyers review your case.
We will fight to ensure you receive the fair and lawful treatment you deserve during your termination process.
Just Cause Termination Explained
A “just cause” termination occurs when the employer claims to have a legitimate reason for letting its staff go. When this happens, severance or advance notice that would have been offered to the employee is withheld or greatly reduced. This can save the employer a significant sum of money, which is why some employers use manipulative language or twist things out of context to favour their allegations; especially in these economic conditions
Neglect of responsibilities, failure to comply with policies, misconduct, insubordination and incompetence are all common reasons we see employers using in making the “just cause” argument in terminating their employees. But in many cases, these reasons don’t reflect the reality of what’s going on.
An employer has the responsibility to allow its staff the opportunity to resolve the unwanted behaviours. Issues like tardiness or incompetence, among others, should be dealt with using progressive discipline to help the employee improve their performance. Clear warnings and a good faith effort to help the employee are generally required. If these measures aren’t taken to give the employee the chance to remedy the issue, the “just cause” claim may not stand up in court.
When wrongful dismissal occurs, the employee in question does not receive fair severance or notice when faced with their impending termination. Luckily in Alberta, there are strict minimum guidelines laid out in the Employment Standards Code and typically, further and enhanced amounts beyond these statutory minimums are set out by the courts. These rules outline employee entitlements for termination pay, reasonable notice or pay-in-lieu.
There are a few critical factors to consider when calculating your severance package:
- How long you’ve offered your services to the company
- Your age
- The nature of your employment
- Availability of comparable jobs
Unfortunately, employers don’t always do their due diligence in calculating notice periods or severance based on these factors, otherwise deliberately ignore them to reduce their bottom line obligations or leave such calculations to unqualified HR personnel. The employee is left with substantially less severance than what they’re truly entitled to. In these instances, wrongful dismissal is at play. We strongly recommend that you seek out the guidance of an employment lawyer in these situations. They happen all too often here in Calgary.
When an employee chooses to quit their job due to unilateral changes made to their employment agreement or because of a hostile work environment, constructive dismissal may have occurred. These changes often breach essential terms of the original employment contract, and the resulting consequences can leave employees feeling like quitting is their only option.
These changes can impact compensation, benefits and even the job title itself. When these shifts occur in the workplace, the environment can become quite toxic.
In some cases, employers will even resort to bullying or intimidation in an attempt to coerce their staff to exit out the door. When employers are successful in manipulating their staff to resign on their own, they are usually no longer responsible for paying the severance and pay-in-lieu of notice that would have resulted from a traditional termination.
Constructive dismissal can be challenging to prove, but employers should and can be held accountable for this sneaky behaviour; in some cases, further damages for bad faith may be payable. If you suspect this has happened to you, please seek the help of a Calgary employment lawyer as soon as possible.
For further reading:
Was your employment recently terminated?
We understand that leaving your job is a stressful event for you and your family. It’s even worse when the decision to move on is not up to you.
Have you found yourself wondering do I need an employment lawyer? We are here to answer all of your questions.
Just because your employer sounds confident and justified in the reasoning behind their decision to let you go, they may not be. Our team here at YYC Employment Law Group is experienced in recognizing unlawful behaviour, and we want to help employees fight for justice.
A New Era of Calgary Employment Lawyers. We’re Different.
Do you suspect that your severance and notice wasn’t enough? Did your employer’s unprofessional conduct worsen the experience of losing your job?
We understand that pursuing legal guidance can feel overwhelming. But when it comes to dismissals and terminations, it’s crucial to understand the fine print of your employment agreement in its entirety. How you exit your role can impact your professional and financial future, and we want to help you protect the rights and entitlements you have worked for.
Led by founder, Stephen Dugandzic, our employment lawyers have worked on both sides of workplace disputes. Seeing what we’ve seen, we’re tired of employment law not favouring the people and backbone of our community. This is why we’re now fully dedicated to helping employees.
With empathy, compassion and a clear understanding of Calgary’s unique labour market, we do things differently.
Let’s work together.