Have you recently lost your job or been informed by your employer that you are about to have your employment terminated? If so you will have many questions swirling around your mind.
- Can my employer fire me?
- What is notice or payment in lieu?
- How much severance money should I receive?
- What is just cause for dismissal?
- Does my employer have to give me any notice or any payment or both?
- Should I accept what my employer is offering me for severance pay?
- Should I sign anything?
- How much would a lawyer cost to sue for wrongful dismissal?
Let’s run through all these questions briefly for you.
Can my employer fire me?
The short answer is a resounding YES, followed by a large BUT!
Unless your employer has what is known in the law as “just cause” to end your employment contract, the employer has to give you notice or payment in lieu of notice.
What is notice or payment in lieu?
How much should I receive?
The payment of notice is designed so that you have time to look for new gainful employment. It can range from one week per year worked for low level employees up to a month per year worked for senior management roles.
To give an example let’s say you are a senior executive at a company and you have university degrees required for that position or other special training or qualifications. Let’s say you have been in that executive position for the last 15 years and now your employment is being terminated for whatever reason (redundancy, lack of customers, it doesn’t matter the reason).
A judge might award you on the high end, one month per year worked for a total of 15 months’ severance pay. You can do the math yourself and see, that can add up to quite a large amount of money.
Whereas if you were an unskilled worker, let’s say a janitor, with no college degree, and you worked somewhere for less than a year you might only receive one week notice or payment in lieu.
These are just some rough examples. The nice thing is that a lawyer can fairly accurately predict what a trial outcome is likely to be because Judges follow precedents from past cases.
This gives us the certainty to know what the likely outcomes might be were any case going to proceed to trial. And this also helps to reach a fair settlement without the need to take each and every case to trial.
When the parties don’t agree, sometimes there is no choice but to go to trial and our wrongful dismissal lawyers in our Regina office are not afraid to do so when necessary.
Indeed our reputation for being litigators often benefits us in the negotiations. When speaking to the lawyer for your employer or often it is speaking to the employer directly he or she will know our threats are not idle of empty. We mean business!
What is just cause for dismissal?
If there was so called “just cause” for your dismissal then your employer can get away with paying you nothing at all.
Examples of just cause for dismissal include things like, if you stole from the employer and they can prove that, or if you have been repeatedly warned about a certain kind of conduct and that has been properly documented on your employment records, for example where they might have even said “if this happens one more time you will be fired with cause”.
In practice however it is really hard for an employer to claim just cause.
Just because your boss tells you that you are being fired “for cause” and are therefore not entitled to any severance pay or notice, it is often not legally correct and we recommend you pick up the telephone and give us a call.
Does my employer have to give me any notice or any payment or both?
So basically it is one or the other. The first step is to determine the appropriate notice period.
Using the above examples we decided in the executive’s example case it might be 15 months.
So now the employer can either tell you, “At the expiry of 15 months your role here is at an end but in the meantime you are to continue your normal duties here”.
This gives you 15 months to look for new employment whilst working out your notice period.
Or, alternatively, the employer can legally tell you, “Here is a cheque for 15 months’ pay, you are to leave immediately, [or we want you to go at the end of the month or some earlier time than the 15 months’ full notice period]”.
Some lesser period than the full 15 months is also fine as long as they pay you out the 15 months. That is the employer’s option so long as he provides the payment instead.
That is what in lieu actually means. In lieu is actually just French for instead. So payment instead of the working notice period. Lawyers like to keep the language confusing as you probably already know!
Should I accept what my employer is offering me for severance pay?
Should I sign anything?
It all depends on what the offer is. Again the factors are
- how long were you employed there,
- what were you roles and duties,
- what was your position,
- what is your background, education and training etc.
There are lots of competing factors that a capable severance lawyer has to grapple with to reach a well thought out conclusion as to what an appropriate severance amount or working notice period should be.
We have lots of experience in wrongful dismissal cases. Give us a call and we can advise you whether you have a good case. Or fill out the form and we will get back to you by email. We are happy to look into it for you.
If there is an allegation of cause for dismissal then this has to be factored in to the question of the likelihood of winning at trial, so you might take a bit of a discount maybe if there is any chance of losing at trial on the basis of cause.
You should not sign anything before speaking to a lawyer.
How much would a lawyer cost to sue for wrongful dismissal?
Our lawyers will either work on an hourly rate payment basis or many times will take on this kind of work on a contingency fee basis which means you pay a percentage of the settlement.
The nice thing about contingency fees is from the client’s perspective there is no risk of paying the lawyer’s bill and not getting any money back from the employer. In the case that the lawyer cannot achieve a settlement or judgement at trial, the lawyer absorbs all the risk and you pay no fees.
Rest assured that all of the wrongful dismissal lawyers in our Regina office know that when you get fired it can be hugely impactful both emotionally and financially and cause a great deal of personal stress. That is totally understandable and you are not alone.
Merchant Law was established in 1986. We proudly serve the Regina and surrounding areas. If you are searching for a wrongful dismissal or severance pay lawyer in any of the following communities, we’ve got your back:
Emerald Park, White City, Pilot Butte, Lumsden, Craven, Bethune, Chamberlain, Assiniboia, Broadview, Carlyle, Estevan, Indian Head, Fort Qu’Appelle, Moose Jaw, Moosomin, Melville, Weyburn, Swift Current, Wynyard, and Yorkton.
We in fact have offices in Saskatoon, Regina and Moose Jaw, and you might decide you would rather see us at one of our other Saskatchewan locations. No problem, just give us a call and we can make those arrangements for you.
Getting in Touch with Us:
To find us in Regina: Stop by our office on the corner of Saskatchewan Drive and Smith Street.
Otherwise call us by phone at 306-359-7777.
Or fill out the adjacent form for an email response.
Let’s see if we can help!