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Wrongful Termination as a Breach of Contract

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2022 | Wrongful Termination |

Wrongful termination claims — also known as wrongful dismissal claims — can arise in various ways. However, at their core, wrongful termination claims arises from a Breach of Contract. The employer-employee relationship begins when both parties make promises to one another by signing of a contract. If the employer breaks those promises, there is a breach of contract and the employee may be entitled to file a common law claim for wrongful dismissal.

Some examples of breaches of an employment contract could include:

  • If a contract stipulates a written warning will be given prior to firing for misconduct, but none is received
  • If an employer significantly cuts the employee’s rate of pay or scheduled hours as outlined in the employment agreement
  • If the employee is entitled to a specific amount of notice of termination of their employment, and the employer fails to provide that amount of notice

The amount of damages an employee may be entitled to receive for a successful wrongful termination claim is based on the idea that by breaching the contract, the employer has chosen to terminate the contract, and the employee is entitled to a reasonable amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice of the end of their employment. This amount will depend on the circumstances and will take into account what was agreed in the employment contract; the age, length of service, character of employment, and availability of alternative employment for the employee; and other considerations.

In addition to wrongful termination claims arising from a breach of contract, employees may be entitled to pursue other types of claims or complaints against employers, for instance:

  • Employers can’t terminate employees based on grounds protected by the BC Human Rights Code. In other words, employees are obligated to not discriminate against their employees. If an employee is, for example, fired in part because they are perceived as “too old” to work, they may have a right to file a human rights complaint against their employer in connection with the termination of their employment.
  • The BC Employment Standards Act sets minimum standards for employment in the province, including with respect to wages, hours of work, and job-protected leaves. If an employee is not provided with their minimum entitlements under the BC ESA, they may be entitled to file a complaint with the BC Employment Standards Branch.

Workers who would like to explore the viability of a wrongful termination case, or other potential claims arising from a termination of employment, could benefit from reaching out to an experienced employment lawyer to discuss the specifics of their situation.

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