Labour & Employment Lawyers in Vancouver
Employment law is a specialist area and by focusing solely on this area, our expertise, and experience can guide you if you have a legal problem in the workplace.
We make workplace law more understandable and provide the type of guidance that helps stressed and confused employees – or employers who face serious legal challenges.
How our Vancouver employment lawyers can help you
While we do help employers in some cases, most of our work is with employees who have suffered from abuse of their rights in the workplace.
Our Vancouver employment lawyers will help you understand your employee rights and explain your options if you have suffered at the hands of an employer.
We also regularly provide legal counsel for cases of workplace harassment and discrimination, as well as unpaid wages/overtime and other employment-related disputes.
Most of our clients benefit from our approach of tactful negotiation with the other party. Wherever that is not possible, decisive and resolute litigation is used as a last resort.
If your employment rights have been violated by an employer, colleague or another party in a Vancouver workplace, start by letting us know the details in a free and confidential consultation.
We can provide a quick assessment of whether you have a case for compensation and damages.
Vancouver Employment Law FAQ
This is when an employer terminates your employment due to serious misconduct, as laid out in the employment contract you signed. The burden of proof lies with the employer to show that your conduct breached the terms of your contract and the relationship cannot be repaired.
This occurs when an employer substantially changes the terms of your employment contract, without obtaining your agreement beforehand. If this is found to be the case, you may be able to claim damages.
When employees resign, they voluntarily end the employment relationship or “quit”. In disputed cases, the burden of proof lies with the employer to show that you resigned voluntarily or quit your position and were not dismissed.
If your employer terminates your employment without respecting your legal rights, it may be regarded as wrongful dismissal, whereby you are entitled to damages.
Can my employer lay me off temporarily?
Your employer is only allowed to lay you off temporarily if your employment contract expressly permits it AND it is common industry practice (e.g. with logging work), AND you agree to the layoff.
This is the amount of money that an employer must pay an employee when his or her employment is terminated. A "severance package” may include compensation in several areas rather than just a cash payment.
If you are terminated from your employment, you are entitled to reasonable notice or a severance payment in lieu of reasonable notice.
Should I accept a severance package if my employer is downsizing and has to lay me off?
This depends on the circumstances. Speak to one of our Vancouver employment lawyers, who can assess the best course of action to take.
Do I have to pay a severance package to each employee if I have to lay them off?
If you terminate an employee, you must provide either reasonable notice or a severance package if an employee has been in continuous employment for three months or more with you. If you provide advanced written notice equal to the number of weeks for which they would have been eligible for severance, no severance package is required.
A non-competition clause prevents you from working with a competitor for an agreed amount of time after leaving a company. A non-solicitation clause allows you to work anywhere but not to solicit your former employer’s clients.
In cases of wrongful dismissal, both clauses will be unenforceable. Otherwise, they may be enforceable.
There is some confusion with this: employees and “dependent contractors” are entitled to severance whereas “independent contractors” are not. Note that you have two years from the date of termination to claim your severance if it is still owing.
An employment contract or agreement includes the specified terms of your relationship with your employer: compensation, responsibilities, work hours, etc.
An employment contract may be either oral or written and both are just as enforceable according to Vancouver employment law.
Should I have an employment contract for each employee?
Without an employment contract for each employee, you are opening yourself up to the potential for the courts in BC to grant terminated employees up to 24 months of severance payments.
What are the minimum employment standards that an employer in BC must adhere to?
You are protected at work from discrimination on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation, or on mental or physical disability, amongst other things.
Bill 208 defines harassment as: inappropriate conduct, comments, displays, actions or gestures by a person that constitutes a threat to the health or safety of the worker and that is either based on (i) certain enumerated grounds (such as colour, gender, or place of origin); or which (ii) adversely affects the worker’s psychological or physical well-being.
What if an employee says that another co-worker is harassing another employee? What must I do?
If an employee reports an incident of harassment, it is your duty as an employer to address it. If an intervention by HR fails to put a stop to it, you should inform the employee being harassed about what their options are and pledge your support for them.
Overtime in BC applies to hours in excess of either eight hours per workday or 40 hours per week. If you exceed eight hours per day or 40 hours per week, you must be paid at 1.5 your regular rate of pay by your employer.