Being fired from a job is already a stressful experience, but how do you know if should you involve a lawyer if you have been fired?
You should consider involving a lawyer if your termination was “wrongful”. Although most people feel like it was wrong for them to be fired, “wrongful” has a particular meaning in the context of employment law. “Wrongful” in this case, means to be fired for an illegal reason.
Employers generally have the right to terminate an employee’s employment, and you should always double-check your employment contract to see if it addresses the terms of potential termination. Employers may either terminate employment “with cause” or “without cause”. A dismissal “with cause” may occur if an employee engaged in serious misconduct. Serious misconduct can include things such as fraud, theft, violence, sexual harassment, conflict of interest, persistent absence, or lateness to work without medical or other good reason. If you are fired “with cause” then you are typically not entitled to severance pay. However, you should consult a lawyer if your version of the events and the evidence differs substantially from that of your employer or if you are being wrongfully accused of something.
If an employer dismisses an employee for reasons other than their serious misconduct, then the dismissal is “without cause”. Employers are still typically entitled to dismiss employees “without cause” as long as the employee is given notice or severance pay. If you were fired “without cause” and not given either notice or severance, then you should contact a lawyer.
Additionally, there are certain things that you cannot legally be fired for. For example, you cannot be fired for refusing to do unsafe work or raising a health or safety issue with your employer. You also cannot be fired for traits that are contained within British Columbia’s Human Rights Code. Protected traits include:
- race or ethnicity;
- gender identity or expression;
- sexual orientation;
- physical or mental disability;
- marital or family status;
- political beliefs; or
If you have recently been fired and you are not sure whether your dismissal was “wrongful”, you can contact Baker Newby LLP to learn more about your legal rights and what your next steps should be.