Dismissal Without Cause in BC

Dismissal Without Cause in BC

As an employee in British Columbia (BC), it is important to know your rights.  While there are very few protections from dismissal without cause in BC, there are still several entitlements that ensure employers are at least somewhat considerate in their decisions to terminate employment.  Unless you have a specific employment contract, the BC Employment Standards Act outlines all the conditions of employment in this province, and that includes the rules and regulations associated with dismissal.

First, let’s talk about the bad news.  Under the BC Employment Standards Act, any employer may terminate employment at any time for any reason.  This means there is no real case for dismissal without cause in BC unless you have an employment contract that outlines a broader scope of rights than the BC Employment Standards Act.

That being said, the vast majority of employees are entitled to some kind of compensation when their employment is terminated.  In order to be eligible for compensation in BC, an employee must have completed three consecutive months of employment.  Moreover, compensation is only provided in lieu of advance written notice of termination from the employer.

So then, if you’ve been employed for three or more months with the same company and you’re terminated without written notice, your employer must provide financial compensation.  All employees are entitled to one week’s pay after three consecutive months of employment, two weeks’ pay after 12 consecutive months of employment, and three weeks’ pay plus one week for each additional year after three consecutive years of employment.  Compensation in BC is maxed out at 8 weeks’ compensation.

However, it is important that employees in the province know that they are not entitled to compensation if employers provide advance written notice of termination providing this notice is equal to the number of weeks’ compensation to which the employee is entitled.  For example, if you have been employed with a company for three consecutive years, they must provide written notice 3 weeks in advance of the termination date.

You may also not be eligible for compensation under the following conditions:

  • Dismissal with just cause,
  • Termination of an on-call or temporary assignment,
  • The end of contracted employment,
  • The end of a defined term of employment,
  • Teachers employed by a board of school trustees.

Still, there are other factors covered by common law that may influence the amount of compensation or written notice to which an employee is entitled.  For example, length of service, employee age, position held, and even availability of similar employment may impact compensation.  If you feel you’ve been dismissed without just cause and you’re unsure of your rights, contact an employment lawyer to ensure you are compensated appropriately.

Things to Look for when Hiring a Labour Lawyer


Just as you would expect variability in the skills and service of any professional, not all labour lawyers provide the same level of service.  So, what are some things to look for when hiring a labour lawyer?


It probably goes without saying that labour law is a specialized field and your lawyer should absolutely have experience with labour law.  You want to know that your lawyer is successful and can provide evidence of this success.  Labour lawyers are even further specialized, and some may have unique expertise in areas such as wrongful dismissal, human rights complaints, or negotiating employment contracts.  Take the time to ensure your lawyer not only has experience in employment law, but also the area in which you need assistance.


Sometimes professionals in any field will say just about anything to land a client, and this can happen in law as well.  You want to know you can trust your lawyer and that they are giving you realistic advice.  Bold predictions or understated costs should be faced with some skepticism on the part of the client.  Seek realistic advice that is based on a comprehensive review of your case and associated legislation.


Legalese can be difficult to navigate, so your lawyer needs to be able to communicate with you in terms you understand.  But, beyond putting the law into lay terms, you also want to be able to communicate effectively with your lawyer.  Are your questions answered in a timely manner?  Can you contact your lawyer when you need them?  Remember that good communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and your communication needs are of primary importance – you’re the client!


Your legal journey may be a difficult one.  Though the law should be objective, the experience of the law is not.  The most effective lawyers argue your case with compassion and empathy.  When it comes to labour law, your lawyer should be sensitive to your concerns regarding employment and the greater impact this has on your life.


Professionalism in law requires representatives to be organized and goal oriented.  Timelines should be well-organized, advice should be delivered clearly, and schedules should be treated with the utmost respect.  You can get a quick gauge of a labour lawyer’s professionalism by simply visiting their offices.  Are the spaces maintained in a clean and orderly fashion, or are their piles of files and papers seemingly askew?  Is support staff clear and concise in their communications?  You shouldn’t always judge a book by it’s cover, but if you enter a law office and things are obviously disorganized, take this as a red flag.

You should always speak with at least two potential lawyers before finally hiring your labour lawyer.  These tips should help you choose somebody who will represent you effectively, but at the end of the day you should also trust your instincts to a degree.  Choose the lawyer that represents the values of the profession while also meeting your personal needs.

How Much Will it Cost to Hire a Labour Lawyer?



Legal fees can be shocking, to say the least.  One of the biggest complaints clients of lawyers have is that they didn’t know what to expect when it comes to their lawyer’s fees.  Even though fees are set out in advance of establishing a lawyer-client relationship, clients are often surprised at how much time a lawyer spends on their case and as such can be surprised at the ultimate cost of services.  Another factor that clients don’t always realize is that lawyer fees are essentially unregulated – lawyers can charge whatever rate they like and there are different fee arrangements too.  With that in mind, knowing how much it will cost to hire a labour lawyer can be difficult to define, but knowing more about these fee arrangements will help you understand how much to expect a labour lawyer to cost.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are conventional fee arrangements for labour lawyers.  With hourly rates, lawyers are paid for the time they spend on your case which means there isn’t always a lot of incentive for them to settle cases efficiently.  Hourly rates are a great choice for concrete tasks including contract review, but not great if you anticipate a lawsuit.  Court costs themselves are quite expensive, and if you have to pay your lawyer’s hourly rate as well, you could be in for a hefty bill.  Also, if you seek employment law services, there’s a good chance your employer knows your funds are limited and they’ll be motivated to drag the case out as long as possible so that you simply cannot afford your lawyer’s time.


Labour lawyers also work on contingency.  Contingency agreements are those in which lawyer’s take your case based on their estimates of damages you may recover.  With contingencies, lawyers will agree to take your case with no or little up-front cost, but will take a percentage of your settlement – usually between 20 and 30 per cent.  If you have a strong case, a contingency agreement will allow you to access legal services without concern for escalating costs as they are fixed in advance and dependent on court awards.  However, it’s important to know that lawyers are playing the odds – if they offer a contingency agreement, they likely realize there is a potential for a large settlement and they’d be better off with a contingency agreement than an hourly result.

Time versus Result

Finally, some lawyers will also charge clients based on the greater amount of hourly or contingency agreements.  These are the least beneficial for clients because a lawyer is going to get paid a percentage of your settlement/court award or hourly rate – whichever is greater.

Ultimately, as the client, it is important for you to consider the different types of fee agreements before hiring a labour lawyer and negotiate an agreement that works best for you.


We are Pleased to Announce We Have Won Several Awards in 2017

awards 2017

The Worldwide Financial Advisor Awards Magazine is an internationally acknowledged online magazine based in the United Kingdom.  With readership exceeding 74,000 lawyers, advisers, consultants, and executives per issue representing 92,500 online subscriptions and subscribers in 159 countries, Worldwide Financial Advisor Awards Magazine is dedicated to recognizing the best professional and financial institutions around the world.

2017-AI-awardWith great success, the magazine published a Financial Monthly Global Awards 2016– Labour & Employment Lawyer of the Year issue wherein they recognized us for global leadership and expertise among the highest quality lawyers around the world.  Additionally, The Lawyers Worldwide Awards Magazine  presented us with the Lawyers Worldwide Awards Super Lawyers 2017 celebrating prolific law firms that stand for excellence and tenacity, thereby positioning themselves as the preeminent firms in their areas of specialization.


Given the prestige of these awards, we are proud to announce that we have won several awards in the Lawyers Worldwide Super Lawyers 2017 campaign.  Through a process that involves evaluation by a panel of highly respected judges, as well as feedback from the readership of Lawyers Worldwide Awards Magazine, we were nominated in the category representing Labour and Employment Law Firms.  Along with our many esteemed competitors, our firm was assessed on factors such as client retention, speed of response, and ability to manage complex cases while maintaining the utmost in client satisfaction and comfort.  Indeed, these awards are presented to firms that navigate all manner of multifaceted cases while ensuring clients are treated with unparalleled respect and provided uncompromised support.

seal - awards 2017As such, we are now rated one of the Top 3 Employment Lawyers in Coquitlam, BC.  Our efforts to consistently provide exceptional law services to our clients throughout Coquitlam and the Lower Mainland have been validated by not only our clients, but now by our international community. This is no small feat.  Utilizing a 50-point inspection process, our firm excelled across categories including reputation, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, and cost.

Yet, as an even greater tribute our firm was also recognized by Global 100 as Employment and Labour Lawyer of the Year – Canada 2017.  This is certainly a humbling prize, and one that demands we recognize our amazing community of clients, as well as our international colleagues.  As an Employment Law Firm, we know the stress and uncertainty that many of our client’s face, and while our main goal is to provide quality services and the best possible support in their times of need, we feel very privileged to receive this award.  We take it as a representation of our dedication to the individualized needs of each of our clients and our determination to serve them each with excellence and respect.

Finally, we are incredibly honoured to be acknowledged by the British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association with their Innovative Workplace Award.  Recognizing creative leadership and innovation in the workplace, we are pleased to represent the forefront of virtual law practice by receiving this award.  As one of the first virtual law firms awarded, the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch applauds our use of user-friendly, reliable technology in delivering efficient, affordable, quality legal services to a wide range of clients in British Columbia.  Through the use of pioneering technology, we have been selected for providing exceptional services to clients even in remote locations where they normally would not benefit from access to labour or human rights legal services.  Combining creative solutions and leadership to promote innovation in the practice of law are the foundations that allowed us to win the Innovative Workplace Award – a prestigious honour that we very graciously accept.

The RCMP at the Point of No Return

The RCMP at the Point of No Return

By Darryl T Davies

The colossal understatement of the year has to be that from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.  In a recent interview when he was asked about the idea of civilian oversight for the RCMP he commented “It would be a massive change in the way the institution has operated for over a century” and “require careful thought”.  Just how much careful thought is needed to recognize and take action to overhaul the management of the RCMP at RCMP Headquarters?  Consider their performance in recent years.

First, it is now widely recognized from the ruling by provincial court Judge R. Leslie Jackson that the RCMP grossly bungled and mismanaged the delivery of equipment to front line officers, such as patrol carbines and body vests. By failing to exercise duty of care they placed their front line officers lives at risk. In the view of many this contributed directly to the number of officers that were shot and killed in Moncton in June 2014.  It is remarkable that nine years earlier when four Mounties were killed in Mayerthorpe by a deranged gunman, that RCMP officers were seriously lacking in adequate firepower and body vests.  Despite overwhelming evidence the RCMP did nothing substantive to address this gap in the arsenal of the rank and file.  Much like our current public safety minister Ralph Goodale they claimed they needed to give the matter careful thought.  For RCMP management nine years evidently was not enough time but this was not a view shared by Judge R. Leslie Jackson when he convicted the RCMP in September 2017 in a Moncton courtroom.

Second, the RCMP paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars earlier this year to members of the rank and file who were bullied and subject to sexual harassment for years. The fact they did not fire one single officer in the senior ranks who was responsible for this predatory behaviour defies logic but then again if history is anything to go by with the RCMP they probably needed time like nine years to study the problem.

Third, then we have RCMP management who are so out of touch with what’s going on in their organization that they were not even aware that some of their employees were running around stark naked and flashing their genitals to all and sundry at the RCMP Police College. What a ringing endorsement for an organization that is fixated on its public image.

Fourth, this past March both the Auditor General of Canada and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP released damning reports highlighting the fact that the RCMP is in every sense of the word a dysfunctional organization.  Both reports set out clear recommendations outlining what is wrong with the organization and how to fix the problem.  Despite this fact the public safety minister has stated on the record that he needs to study the problem.  There have been innumerable reports that have been produced in the past five years setting out a blue print for changing the RCMP and yet not one public safety minister has had the wherewithal to have their recommendations implemented.

Any organization that operated the way the RCMP have operated would have been disbanded years ago. How many public safety ministers and how many years does it take for governments to fix a problem?  In many respects we should be grateful for the fact that we have independent and impartial courts of law in Canada or nothing would change for the better.  For many observers who are knowledgeable about the problems in policing, public safety ministers have been carrying around a picket fence with them for so long that the best they can offer when confronted with a major crisis is to sit on it. The fact that nothing changes is a sad commentary but it speaks clearly to the fact that when it comes to fixing the RCMP the problem is due to the four horsemen of political inaction namely inertia, ignorance, apathy and cost.

Fifth, in recent years there have been an inordinate number of lawsuits launched against the RCMP. Many of these lawsuits have been filed by individuals in the rank and file who have endured years of horrific abuse and maltreatment. These lawsuits have been filed at considerable cost to the taxpayers of this country and this is largely due to the fact that RCMP management are so incompetent that they can’t see or refuse to see a problem when it’s staring them in the face.  Earlier this year a judge called the RCMP’s treatment of a sergeant ‘outrageous’ in a bullying case.  The judge described the RCMP’s actions against Sgt Peter Merrifield as reckless and awarded the plaintiff $41,000 in lost wages for delayed advancement and $100,000 in general damages. The judge slammed the RCMP for its lack of credibility and forthrightness in defending the case.

In recent months a number of very brave and honourable members in the RCMP rank and file like Corporal Patrick Bouchard have been speaking publically about the way they have been treated by senior management in the RCMP and its inadequate leadership.  Although it’s an internal disciplinary offence to criticize the RCMP in public a number of very courageous members within the Force have called out the organization for its dysfunctional and lack lustre leadership.  In my view these officers should receive the Order of Canada for having the courage to speak out about the malignancy that is infecting the highest levels of the organization.

Sixth, recently the former president of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada Rae Banwarie tendered his resignation from the RCMP.  In doing so his letter chronicled the reasons for leaving the RCMP.  When people of his calibre give up on the organization it should send a clear message as to why so many members are quitting the force and why the RCMP’s recruitment program is floundering. Rae Banwarie’s letter should be read in the House of Commons to every member of parliament so they and all Canadians can learn about the extent of the problems in our national police service.  It’s a fair question to ask who wants to work for an organization that as BC psychologist Mike Webster stated a few years ago will make you sick?

When you factor in the rampant patronage at RCMP headquarters and the view by some observers that they are using archaic and obsolete training methods one could cogently make a case that the RCMP is already at the point of no return.  If there is any luminosity in this bleak picture it’s the rank and file.  Despite serious staffing shortages that are causing occupational stress for RCMP members the vast majority of them are continuing to provide our communities with stellar policing services across the country often at great cost to their health and personal lives. This is not the time to be making  political platitudes while the institution is at the edge of the abyss.

Instead of wasting time claiming he is going to study the problem, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale should do something concrete and now.  For starters, he could make major management and structural changes at RCMP Headquarters.  The evidence that management is to blame for the RCMP’s Pandora’s box is overwhelming. In addition, he should immediately take measures to establish a civilian review board so that it’s in place before the next Commissioner is appointed.  Finally, he can make the process for selecting the next Commissioner of the RCMP transparent, open and accountable.  The time for studying the problem has long passed.

Darryl T Davies is an instructor in criminology and criminal justice in the department of sociology and anthropology at Carleton University.  Professor Davies was a crown witness at the Labour Canada trial against the RCMP in Moncton, New Brunswick. 

What is Collective Bargaining?


Simply put, collective bargaining refers to the negotiation of salary, benefits, and conditions of employment by a body or group of employees.  People are most often familiar with the term “labour union” or just “union” as the common name for a body of employees that enters into collective bargaining.  As a specialized field of negotiation, collective bargaining between labour unions and their employers allows for employee rights that extend beyond government labour laws, but these negotiations are still covered by legal requirements.

It is important to know that legal statutes protect employees’ rights to form collective bargaining units in order to negotiate employment terms.  This means they may negotiate as a group for any number of rights from salary and benefits to working hours and working conditions.  For many employees, negotiating employment terms as a collective affords them an opportunity to help and protect each other from potential consequences associated with their negotiations.  Similarly, legal statutes also afford unions in the private sector extended rights for unpaid leave as a means of negotiation – in other words, unionized workers in the private (and often public) sector have the right to strike.

However, unions in North America must also be appropriately recognized through a certification process.  This process requires that the union, or collective bargaining unit, can demonstrate majority support for the union before it can claim to represent the collective rights of the group.  Typically, governmental bodies must validate the union as most provinces hold jurisdiction over working conditions including minimum wages, working hours, termination requirements, and general working conditions.  For example, in British Columbia, the Employment Standards Act outlines the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers in the province.

With respect to collective bargaining negotiations, one might view the issue as two sides of the same coin.  Employers and employees sometimes have conflicting interests but share a common goal.  Most often, conflict will arise from economic concerns but working conditions that impact health and safety are also common motivators for collective bargaining negotiations.  As unions have become more sophisticated in North America, unions now often petition for improved working benefits such as extended health plans, increased vacation time, and leave to attend to personal emergencies.

Collective bargaining is a complicated process that involves specialized legal know how.  In most cases, an employee represented by a union cannot seek outside legal council in Canada, unless they feel they are not adequately represented by their union.  Moreover, union employees pay careful attention to the stipulations of their collective bargaining unit because they are often required to act in the best interests of their unit even if these contradict their personal interests.  Ultimately, collective bargaining is common in Canada and North America and there are benefits and drawbacks for both employees and employers.

Image-Duty, Service, Sacrifice

Duty Service SacrificeOn Saturday, 26 June 2017, Sebastien Anderson was humbly honoured to receive from Cst. Leo Johnston’s parents a limited edition print, “Duty, Service and Sacrifice” in appreciation of the pro bono legal assistance he provided to them. The back of the framed print is inscribed in Leo Johnston’s mother’s handwriting as follows: “Thank you for your Support in our time of need. Grace & Ron Johnston.”

This limited edition commemorative print was created exclusively in the memory of Cst. Leo Johnston, Cst. Brock Myrol, Cst. Anthony Gordon, and Cst. Peter Schiemann, who gave their lives in service to their country on 3 March 2005, near the town of Mayerthorpe, Alberta. Proceeds from the purchase of the print go directly to The Fallen RCMP Family Fund.

The following poem by J.S. McGregor informs the visual content of the print.

Four Black Horses
Four black horses without riders
Galloped the Alberta plain;
Four black horses, sent from depot
To bring them back again;
Four black horses with empty saddles
Racing the cold prairie sun;
Four black horses arrive at the farmyard
As the last bullet leaves the gun;
Four black horses stand with head bowed
Wait ‘til the echoes subside;
Four black horses turn as they’re mounted,
Now their heads held high with pride,
Four mounted policemen take hold of the reins
Spur their mounts hold lances high;
Four black horses, red surge in the saddles,
Disappear in the Alberta sky.

Leo Johnston was killed in the line-of-duty, died a hero, and is interred at Depot in Regina, Saskatchewan.









Shamefully, the RCMP  refused to disclose to Leo’s parents the time, place , and precise location of the re-interment of his remains.

Sadly, Grace, Leo’s mother, died in January 2017, still grieving over the tragic loss of her son.

Leo Johnston we thank you for your service to your country. Your sacrifice enforcing the rule of law will not be soon forgotten. We continue to mourn his loss among with those who lost their lives with him along with with Leo Johnston’s parents, brother, family, and those that served with him. Lost  but never forgotten!

Employment Group Benefits

Employment Group Benefits

As an employer, you might be asking yourself about the pros and cons of employment group benefits.  Employer-sponsored benefit plans cover everything from drug and dental coverage to life insurance.  Job seekers are drawn to positions that offer group benefits, especially when it comes to extended health coverage that provides more insurance than offered through government health plans.  So, employer-sponsored health plans can help Canadian employees cover more of their healthcare costs, but are there benefits for employers.

In a nutshell, employment group benefits may include life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, extended healthcare coverage, dental care coverage, and even disability benefits.  Generally speaking, the costs of these benefits are moderate for the employer, especially given the value they offer.  This is especially true since insurance providers will often offer much more affordable rates for group packages when compared to the retail market.  And all your employees will be eligible to receive these benefits in most cases.  Insurance companies offer benefits for all group members without the need for medical exams to determine eligibility since the plans tend to be lucrative for them as well.

As mentioned, job seekers are drawn not just by salaries but also benefits packages and the peace of mind offered by these packages is often psychologically more attractive than a salary increase that costs the employer the same amount.  There are even flexible benefit plans available that allow employers to offer various benefit options for different job classifications.  And sometimes, employers can subsidize the cost of some benefits packages by requiring employees to make contributions to participate in a plan.

But beware.  Unionized workplaces are well-known for offering insurance benefits to employees, particularly in order to protect employers from worker disputes or grievances.  Unfortunately, even when certain benefits are not offered, employees can still try to make legal claims for benefits that are not outlined in a collective bargaining agreement – and there are precedent cases that provide evidence.

Indeed, unionized employers may be liable for group benefits even when they have insurance coverage.  It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the collective bargaining agreement specifically outlines the details of the insurance policy with respect to the nature and amount of the benefits.  In other words, if there are discrepancies between the collective bargaining agreement and the insurance policy, the employer may be liable.

Ultimately, employment group benefits can provide employers a cost-effective way of attracting the top candidates to positions in their company, but it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the details of the benefits are clearly and accurately stipulated in any employment contract.  That being said, with a meticulous employment contract, group benefits are often one of the best ways to attract talent to your business.

How Much is a Severance Package?

How-Much-is-a-Severance-PackageMake no mistake, in British Columbia (BC) employees have few rights when it comes to dismissal from employment and associated severance packages.  Unless you have negotiated terms of dismissal and severance in a unique employment contract or you are a union member, the terms of your employment are likely outlined in the BC Employment Standards Act.  According to the regulations in this document, employers may dismiss any staff member for any reason at any time; though, there are essentially just two categories of dismissal – just cause or without cause.  If you’re wondering about how much severance you are owed, it is important to understand each of these categories and the provincial laws that govern them.

Just Cause and Severance

There are a few reasons your employer may dismiss you with cause or just cause.  These cases are not common because a serious infraction by the employee must have occurred.  For example, theft, dishonesty, fraud, and assault or harassment of co-workers or clients are examples of reasons and employer may dismiss you for cause.  In the case of just cause, an employee is not eligible for severance pay or notice, though the burden of proof falls on the employer.  If you have been dismissed for so-called “just cause” and you dispute the reasons for your dismissal, you may want to consult with an employment lawyer.

Without Cause and Severance

Unfortunately, employees have few rights when it comes to dismissal; however, when an employee is terminated without cause they are entitled to severance pay or adequate notice.  There are many reasons an employee may be dismissed without cause including downsizing, poor workplace performance of the employee, or company restructuring.  But what are your rights if you are dismissed without cause?

In a nutshell, BC employers must either provide employees notice of termination or severance.  Depending on your term of service, your entitlement varies.  With respect to severance, an employee who has served three consecutive months with a company is entitled to one week paid severance; after 12 consecutive months of service, your entitlement is 2 weeks’ pay; and after three consecutive years, your entitlement is three weeks’ pay plus one week’s pay for every additional year of employment.  Maximum severance in BC is set at 8 weeks’ pay.

In lieu of compensation, an employer may also provide written notice of dismissal which is calculated in the same way.  For example, if you have been employed for 4 years, you are eligible for 4 weeks’ notice.  Moreover, an employer may choose to combine severance and notice; again, if you have been employed for 4 years and an employer provides 3 weeks’ written notice of dismissal, you are still entitled to 1 week of severance pay.


There are exceptions to these laws; for example, collective agreements and unique employment contracts often outline specific guidelines for dismissal and severance.  If you are unsure of your rights, speak to your union official or an employment lawyer.


The Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch awarded Labour Rights Law Office the Innovative Workplace Award for 2017. In a letter informing Sebastien Anderson that the Labour Rights Law Office had been selected for the award, the Michael Walsh, President, said, “Mr. Anderson, your involvement and profile in the legal community reflects the highest values and commitment to the profession. Once again, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch, I extend our congratulations.

Innovative Workplace Award