Ridout Barron


What to do when you suspect wrongful termination

Anyone in Alberta who has been fired from a job will likely question the legality of the employer's actions. According to the Employment Standards Act, an employer should give a worker fair warning before termination of employment. For example, an employee who worked at a company for 10 years deserves 10 months' notice of an employer's intention to fire him or her. Otherwise, the fired worker must get 10 months' wages paid out -- not necessarily in one lump sum.

A fired worker might suspect that his or her employment was terminated because of a disability. Other questionable situations include termination while the worker is on pregnancy or parental leave or during an absence caused by a medical condition. An employer cannot use such circumstances as the reason for dismissal; however, if there was some type of misconduct on the worker's part during the time of absence, it might be enough motivation to warrant termination of employment.

An employer can use just cause as a reason to fire an employee. That will mean a firing without severance pay due to a specific reason involving misconduct or another gross wrongdoing. However, the employer will have to justify such an action by proving that he or she had a valid reason for on-the-spot dismissal. If an employee suspects he or she was fired because of a disability or a legitimate absence from work, he or she can take the matter to court.

Anyone who finds him or herself in such dire circumstances might be wise to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with Alberta employment laws. Legal counsel can assess the situation and determine the viability of a legitimate complaint. If the court finds that the termination was wrongful, the worker will be entitled to claim damages.

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Ridout Barron
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