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Severance Package Reviews in Alberta

So you've been fired by your employer. Often when employees are fired, employers engage in the tactic of giving a time limited offer to the employee. This will often be a low-ball offer. The employer will then say you have one week or two weeks to respond, and then the offer is revoked. This tactic often works, and many employees end up settling for less than they should.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is advisable to bring your package to an employment lawyer for a severance package review. Bring your lawyer the severance package, your contract of employment, other relevant communications, and your version of what happened. The lawyer can review the caselaw and come to an estimate of what your case is worth, and whether they recommend that you negotiate or accept the offer. And yes, severance situations are very much negotiable.

We are often asked questions via email like: I worked at such and such place for 3 years, what is my severance worth? Severance questions are not so easy to answer quickly as they depend on your unique background.

The basics for determining severance are set out in the case of Bardal v. Globe and Mail Ltd. (1960)24DLR(2d)140, which is the seminal case on damages in an employment law case. If you are interested in reading this case, it can be found here:

Bardal says that in determining severance the unique factors of your case are looked. These can include: what your contract of employment said, how long you were there, what your duties were, how old you were at the time you were fired, the availability of similar employment (which is a big issue in Covid-19 times) and what the circumstances of your employment were. Being bullied in the workplace can add more to your damages, as can certain high handed behavior when you are fired.

Another concept relevant to severance is mitigation. The law says you have a duty to find new, similar employment after you are fired and must make honest efforts in doing so. If you find new similar employment, then your damages can go down. If you don't make the effort, then it can go down as well. Practically, many employers like to see how employees do in their mitigation efforts before settling, and when they do there is usually a bit of a "mitigation" discount in the overall settlement amount.

All these factors are looked at in a severance review, newer cases are reviewed and a range for the severance is come to, which is used as a basis for negotiation. Most of these cases are resolved by negotiation, but some end up going to litigation.

If you have been fired and need legal advice please contact us:

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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