Halifax Wrongful Dismissal Lawyers
Losing your job can have a significant impact on your life. Not only does it affect you financially, but it can also impact you psychologically. Given that we often associate our career with who we are as an individual, our employment is important to our independence and our sense of self. As a result, wrongful dismissals are especially upsetting as they are usually unexpected and unexplained. If you think you were fired without proper cause, a Halifax wrongful dismissal lawyer can help you explore your legal options.
What Is Wrongful Dismissal?
In Nova Scotia, wrongful dismissal occurs when an employer terminates a person without cause or without the proper notice or pay in lieu of notice. People who have been wrongfully dismissed may be entitled to receive compensation for the loss of benefits and income.
When a dismissal is wrongful it is said to be “without cause”, which in simple terms means that the employer did not have a reason to dismiss the employee. However, it is important to note that terminating an employee does not always lead to a wrongful dismissal claim.
In fact, sometimes the employer has a legitimate reason or “cause” to dismiss a person. If this is the case, the employer does not have to give any notice or pay in lieu of notice. Therefore, it is always a good idea for an employer to set out specific reasons when they are dismissing an employee for cause.
Incompetence can be a ground for dismissal, but the employer must meet a specific test when claiming to terminate an employee due to their competence. For example, an employer must have objective standards of performance; demonstrate the employee failed to meet those standards; warned the employee that they failed to meet those standards and that the continued failure could result in termination; and given the employee a reasonable period to correct themselves or meet the standards.
Constructive dismissal v. wrongful termination in Nova Scotia
Unlike a wrongful termination, a constructive dismissal can occur if the fundamental terms of a person’s employment have been altered by the employer and the employee has not agreed to the change. As a result, a constructive dismissal can occur even when an employee continues to be employed. Circumstances that could give rise to a constructive dismissal claim include:
- Altering an employee’s reporting functions
- Changing an employee’s hours
- Reducing remuneration
- Changing the location of employment.
In Nova Scotia, most claims for wrongful or constructive dismissal must be brought within two years of the termination. However, depending on your employer, there are exceptions where limitation periods could be shorter. You should consult with a Halifax wrongful dismissal lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and ensure that you do not miss any limitation periods.
Who can bring a wrongful dismissal claim in Nova Scotia?
In Nova Scotia, most employers are governed by the Labour Standards Code. This Code sets out requirements for when an employer dismisses a person (among many other minimal standards). According to this Code, an employer is required to give the employee notice of the termination.
The notice period under the Labour Standards Code is based on how long an individual has been employed. The minimum notice period is one week after an employee has at least 3 months of service and gradually increases to 8 weeks for employees with more than 10 years of service. Special rules also apply to employees with more than 10 years of employment. Remember, this is just a minimum and a court may determine the notice period is longer depending on the circumstances of the case.
It is important to notice that the Labour Standards Code does not apply to independent contractors and to a number of professions such as architects, doctors, dentists, lawyers and engineers. Unionized employees are typically governed by their collective agreements. Additionally, your employment contract may also set out grounds for termination and include a definition as to what constitutes “just cause”.
Independent contractors have a special characterization under the law and cannot bring a claim for wrongful dismissal. However, they may have a claim for a breach of contract in certain circumstances. Another category of worker is the Dependent Contractor which is not an employee but is dependent on the employer and is under an obligation to perform duties for the employer that more closely resemble the relationship of employee / employer. A dependent contractor may be entitled to bring a claim for wrongful dismissal.
Damages for wrongful dismissal
Typically, damages for wrongful dismissal represent the income an employee would have collected had they received the proper notice. Other types of damages could include compensation for loss of benefits (such as medical or dental benefits, car allowance, etc.), loss of pension contributions and retirement allowances.
You may also be entitled to increase damages depending on the manner in which you were dismissed. For example, increased damages can be claimed in circumstances where the employer acted in an untruthful, misleading, or unduly insensitive manner. These are sometimes called aggravated or punitive damages.
Keep in mind that there can be deductions from damages for wrongful dismissal. If you received any other employment during the notice period, this is typically deducted. Also, the court can find that you had an obligation to “mitigate your damages” or find alternate employment. If the court finds that you failed to mitigate your damages, they can deduct an amount from your damages or reduce your notice period.
You may be required to repay Employment Insurance Benefits or other benefits received during the notice period. You should consult with a wrongful dismissal lawyer to determine what, if any, obligations you have.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Dismissal in Nova Scotia?
In order to prove you were wrongfully dismissed, you must show that you were dismissed without any reason or cause and that you were not given the appropriate notice of your termination or pay in lieu of notice.
Important documentation to bring to your first consultation includes your employment contract, performance reviews, correspondence from employers, recent paystubs and your Record of Employment.
Speak to Our Halifax Wrongful Dismissal Lawyers
If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, you should speak to a Halifax wrongful dismissal lawyer to explore your legal options. To schedule a consultation with the lawyers at Kimball Law, call 1 (902) 422-8811.