Legal Services for Individuals & Families

Employment and Human Rights Law (Employees)

Whether you have been fired, laid-off, injured or discriminated against by an employer, our experienced legal counsel will help ensure that your rights are protected. Our employment and human rights lawyers have many years of experience representing both employers and employees. We can assist in negotiating a settlement with your employer and help you pursue a claim through the Court system or before an administrative tribunal. We are well versed in both the BC Human Rights Code and the Employment Standards Act, and advise clients on all employment law matters, from employment and independent contractor agreements to restrictions on competition after employment ends.

If your employment is terminated our employment lawyers can advise you on issues pertaining to your entitlement to notice, or payment in lieu of notice. We offer severance and termination package reviews to ensure your rights are protected when your employment ends.

The Employment Standards Act

If you work in a non-unionized environment your working terms and conditions are regulated primarily by the Employment Standards Act (the “ESA”). The ESA governs important interactions including hiring, wages, vacation, overtime and dismissal. Read more.

Resolving Disputes with your Employer

While many employment disputes can be resolved through negotiation with an employer, our employment lawyers are always ready to represent our clients’ interests in court or before an administrative tribunal. We have appeared at all levels of court and have represented many clients appearing before the BC Human Rights and the Employment Standards Act tribunals.

We also have experience with alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, including mediation, settlement conferences and arbitration.

If you feel that you were treated unfairly by your employer, then you can be confident that the lawyers at McQuarrie Hunter LLP will commit themselves to making sure that your interests are properly represented.

The Notice Period in British Columbia

Except in exceptional circumstances, employers in British Columbia are required by both the Employment Standards Act and the common law of contracts to give an employee prior notice of the termination of their employment, or to pay the employee salary in lieu of notice.

The amount of notice an employee is entitled to, pursuant to the Employment Standards Act, depends on the length of service of the employment:

  • Less than 3 months → No notice required;
  • More than 3 months → 1 week of notice;
  • More than 12 months → 2 weeks of notice;
  • More than 36 consecutive months → 2 weeks notice + 1 week for each additional year
  • of service (8 week max).

The amount of notice an employee is entitled to at common law will depend on the employee’s length of service, age, special skills, availability of other work etc. What constitutes reasonable notice varies from employee to employee and can be as long as 24 months!

If your employment has been terminated, then it is important that you talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether or not you have received the notice you are entitled to and to review any severance package you may be offered. Most packages include a release of claims from the employee and once signed, you may lose the right to pursue further compensation.

Discrimination in the Workplace

Despite several generations of incremental improvement, discrimination in the workplace still occurs. If you believe that you may have been discriminated against by a prospective, current, or former employer, then you should contact a lawyer familiar with this area of the law to discuss your options.

Most issues of employee discrimination are outlined and regulated by the BC Human Rights Code, which prevents employers from discriminating against a person in their employment on the grounds of race, marital status, colour, place of origin, ancestry, religion, political beliefs, family status, physical disability, mental disability, sex, age, sexual orientation, or criminal conviction. In addition, an employer may not discriminate against an employee who has made a complaint to a regulatory body.

There is a 6 month time period to file a complaint under the Human Rights Code. Accordingly you must act quickly if you feel you have been discriminated against.

Read more about discrimination in the workplace.

Contact Our Employment Lawyers

If you have any questions concerning your employment or if you feel that your employer has or is about to violate your rights, we recommend you contact one of the members of the employment law practice group at McQuarrie Hunter LLP for a confidential consultation.

Lawyers in this area:

Robert A. Finlay, Partner
Kevin P. Hyde, Partner
Dan A.T. Moseley, Partner
Sarah E. Morse, Associate
Manjot K. Parhar, Associate
Gareth T. Reeves, Associate
Cindy J. Zheng, Associate