Wrongful Dismissal 101
Without a doubt, the most frequent questions that I get from employee clients are about their rights once they have received a termination letter. I have reviewed many, many severance packages for employees. I also work for employers to prepare termination letters and severance offers. This blog post contains some of the questions frequently asked by employees and my answers.
Q: I didn't do anything wrong, can my employer fire me?
Yes, employers can terminate your employment "without cause." Even if you are a stellar employee, an employer can still decide to fire you. There are exceptions to this, for example, if you are being fired because you are pregnant or another reason that engages human rights protections. When terminating "without cause" employers have to provide reasonable notice of termination, or pay in lieu of notice (a severance package).
Q: Is termination pay as required by the Employment Standards Act enough?
Not unless there is a (valid and legally enforceable) written contract between you and your employer that says they can terminate on providing only the notice set out in the Employment Standards Act, and no more. The Employment Standards Act establishes minimum standards, including for termination pay. Much more severance pay is often owed.
Q: Is my employer required to give me a reference letter?
There is no legal requirement for employers to provide a reference letter. This is something that can often be negotiated as part of a severance package. Even if there is no negotiation over severance, it never hurts to ask for a reference letter. Consider asking the manager or supervisor you worked with most closely. They are more likely to provide a reference letter than HR, and the reference will be more useful because they know your work.
Q: How much will it cost to get my severance package reviewed?
In many cases, I can review, assess and give solid advice about a severance package offer in an initial consultation for a flat fee. After consulting with me, you will either have peace of mind, knowing that the package is fair and reasonable, or you will know exactly why and by how much the package is short, and have a plan to negotiate improvement.
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