When Arnold Schwarznegger took over Donald Trump’s role on ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’, albeit short-lived, he replaced the Donald’s favourite phrase – “You’re fired” – with “You are terminated”. Although this was an obviously appropriate catchphrase for Arnold to assume, it also happens to be legally correct. The likelihood of a boss telling you that you are terminated, is, however, pretty remote, compared to hearing that you are fired. In fact, as explained in a prior blog, the most likely, but inaccurate, phrase often used is to hear that you have been “laid off”.
At law, when you are fired, your employment has been terminated. It is also correct to say that you have been dismissed from your employment. This is permanent, not temporary. The terms “wrongful termination” and “wrongful dismissal” are interchangeable, although wrongful dismissal is the more common one referenced in our law.
What makes the termination “wrongful”? Unfortunately, unless you under a collective agreement through a union, or have tenure as a professor, you can be fired at any time. Period. That is the harsh reality in our private sector, non-unionized workplace. What all employers must do, however, is either provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice, to their fired employees, unless the employer can establish “just cause” for the termination. If no just cause exists, and reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice is not provided; the termination, or dismissal, has been “wrongful” at law.
If your employer hands you a termination letter containing severance terms, it is often done with a very narrow time period stipulated in which to accept. There is really no way for you to know if those terms are reasonable, without legal advice. Don`t bow to the time pressure. Don’t sign without getting legal advice. Call Graeme Fraser for a consultation, to ensure that your rights are protected and that the best deal possible is obtained for you.