Someone asked me to write an article going back to basics and explaining Wrongful Dismissal Law in Alberta for non-unionized employees (for unionized employees it's mainly the Collective Agreement that governs) .
Employers in indefinite contracts of employment have the ability to fire employees, just like employees have the freedom to leave their employment. When employees are fired they are entitled to damages, including all compensation they would have made, severance (Employment Standards minimums). and pay-in-lieu of notice. This is generally calculated based on the Bardal factors (see our article on that if you are interested https://www.flodenward.com/post/how-is-severance-calculated-in-alberta ). Employees then have the right to sue, but at the same time they have to make reasonable efforts to find a similar job. If they don't make the effort or if they are successful in finding another position, their damages are reduced accordingly.
Constructive Dismissal occurs when the employer has taken unilateral steps that have had the effect of changing the contract of employment. When this happens, the law deems that you have been fired (hence the "constructive" part of it). Constructive Dismissal can come from things like changing the person's title, responsibilities, organizational structure, duties, place of employment or compensation. Bullying can also lead to constructive dismissal.
If you have been fired and need legal advice, or if you are an employer and would like to navigate employment law in a way that minimizes your losses, please feel free to 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.