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Navigating the end of employment

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Wrongful Termination |

The end of an employment relationship, whether by resignation or termination, can be more complicated than people might realize. For employers and employees in British Columbia, it’s crucial to recognize the situations that could give rise to legal challenges as well as the ways parties can avoid them.

Common reasons for disputes

Disagreements between employers and departing workers can arise for a number of reasons when an employee quits or is fired. Some of the more common issues that may lead to legal conflicts involve:

  • Discrimination claims: allegations that an employee’s termination was due to race, age or other protected grounds under the British Columbia Human Rights Code.
  • Improper notice: failure to provide adequate notice or severance pay in accordance with employment agreements or statutory requirements.
  • Misconduct allegations: disputes over whether an employee’s behaviour warranted just cause for dismissal.
  • Contract discrepancies: conflicts stemming from misunderstandings or disagreements about the terms of an employment contract, or consideration issues regarding the enforceability of the contract.

These are just a few examples of why employers and departing employees may clash upon or following a departure. Under these circumstances, one or both parties could face professional, financial and legal consequences.

Proactive conflict avoidance

Avoiding legal disputes starts with a proactive approach. Employers should have enforceable employment contracts and up-to-date employee handbooks that clearly outline policies and procedures. Both parties can benefit from mutually understanding what to expect, which helps prevent conflict at a later date.

Regular reviews of these handbooks, ideally with the assistance of a legal professional, can help to maintain compliance with current laws and regulations. Consultation with a lawyer can mitigate risks by ensuring parties understand their rights and obligations.

Communication styles and methods can also play roles in preventing conflicts. Having a professional and honest conversation is generally going to be preferable to making decisions in the heat of an argument or other stressful situations.

Setting the stage for a smooth transition

While an employee’s departure can be a sensitive time for those involved, it need not be a source of legal complications. Understanding the common causes of disputes and taking proactive steps to prevent them can lead to smoother transitions. Knowledge is the foundation of a sound employer-employee relationship, and staying informed is key to avoiding legal pitfalls. 



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