Employees have two years to sue for wrongful dismissal, and six months to make an Employment Standards complaint, starting from the date their job was terminated.
Most types of legal claims are subject to the Limitation Act. This basically means that there is a specified timeframe within which you must bring a claim, otherwise you will not be legally allowed to do so. The timeframe is called the ‘limitation period’.
The purpose of a limitation period is to prevent claims arising years after the actual event took place. Different types of claim have different limitation periods, and it’s important to take note of them, or you may lose out on the opportunity to pursue legal action.
Time limitations in wrongful dismissal claims
With wrongful dismissal claims, the law in British Columbia changed back in 2013, shortening the amount of time employees have to sue their employers from six years to two years.
The time limits that apply to your case will depend on when the wrongful dismissal occurred and was discovered.
If your wrongful dismissal claim relates to events that took place and were discovered before June 1, 2013, your claim will still fall under the old laws. This means you will have six years to sue your employer.
But for any wrongful dismissal claims that relate to events that happened after June 1, 2013, the new laws will apply. This means you will have two years to sue your employer.
The limitation period usually begins the date your employment was terminated. So, under the new laws, if you believe you were wrongfully dismissed on January 2, 2018, you will have until January 2, 2020 to sue your employer.
Are there exceptions to the rule?
There are some exceptions to the rules, and typically the time limits are different if the person taking legal action is a minor or is disabled. The employment lawyer who is representing you may also be able to negotiate a longer limitation period.
What happens if the limitation period expires?
If the limitation period expires and you haven’t sued your employer (or former employer) in the courts, you will not be able to do so in the future. Even if you have a very strong case, you will have missed your chance to take legal action.
Making a complaint
Rather than sue your employer in the courts, you may wish to make a complaint regarding your wrongful dismissal. You can do this via the Employment Standards Complaint service. This is available to anyone who wants to complain about an alleged contravention of the BC Employment Standards Act.
Again, there are time limits involved. You have just six months to submit a complaint, starting from the date your employment was terminated.
Get expert legal advice
If you believe you have been wrongfully dismissed from your job, it’s best to get expert legal advice straightaway due to the strict time limits at play.