Alberta and Canada have laws that protect basic employment rights. You have the right to know about the hazards you might encounter in your job. You also have the right to refuse to do something that might put you or your colleagues in danger. These laws are in place to make sure that no one is being treated unfairly at work.
Employment law deals with unjust practices in the workplace. It covers a lot of issues that workers may experience while on the job, including your employment contract and whether it has been violated.
Common Employment Law Disputes
An employment contract is an essential part of any job. An employment contract can be written, unwritten (verbal), or a bit of both. Employment contracts contain terms on the duties and obligations of both the employer and the employee. Understanding your employment contract helps you understand what you are getting into when you accept the job.
Disputes are present in most workplaces. At some point, you might feel like you’re not getting paid enough based on your contract and the labor that you’re putting into your job. You might also feel like you are being unreasonably excluded from company matters.
This is why written and unwritten employment contracts are important. They provide a solid legal basis should you decide to file a dispute against your employer. They also provide more security and stability to you as an employee.
Let’s now look into five of the most common employment law issues that people face in their place of work.
Wrongful Termination Allegations
Some employees get fired because of misconduct, poor performance, frequent tardiness, etc. Others get dismissed because of some direct breach of their written employment contract. If the employee breach is serious enough, these sorts of terminations are called “just cause” terminations, and are not considered “wrongful termination”.
If an employer has just cause, the employee is not entitled to any severance.
But some employees get fired without proper justification or “just cause”. In those situations, the employee will often have a valid legal complaint, including that they should receive severance.
If you feel like you’ve been wrongfully terminated, contact an employment lawyer. Discuss how you can raise a dispute to contest either the reason for the termination of the amount of reasonable notice (severance) you are being offered.
Overtime and Wage Disputes
Overtime and wage disputes commonly occur in the workplace.
Managers are generally exempt from overtime pay. Some employers may give you a ‘managerial’ position to try and get away without paying you for overtime. But if your job is not mainly supervisory, you may have a valid dispute against your employer about overtime.
Your employment contract may require that you should receive benefits immediately after hiring or right after your probationary period. If you do not start receiving benefits when you expected, you may have grounds for a dispute.
Here’s another thing to take note of: ordinarily, operational costs such as uniform costs or apparatus breakage cannot be deducted from your wages, especially if you are earning minimum wage.
Another common employment law issue is harassment. This can either be physical or verbal. Harassment is generally when someone treats you poorly, intimidates, or threatens you in some way at work.
Harassment is often discriminatory. If your employer uses a protected human rights ground such as age, mental disability, physical disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender, pregnancy, family status, or marital status against you in any way, it could be a ground for a discrimination complaint.
Albertan and Canadian laws protect workers from any form of harassment in the workplace. If you feel harassed, intimidated or threatened in any way, you should speak to a lawyer about your rights.
Discrimination, no matter how small, is still discrimination. As mentioned above, you cannot be treated unfairly because of a protected human rights ground such as age, mental disability, physical disability, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender, pregnancy, family status, or marital status.
But take note that not all situations which look like discrimination are, in fact, discrimination. Sometimes there is a genuine or bona fide occupational requirement that makes a discriminatory standard necessary, and therefore permissible. For example, a Firehall would not be required to hire a quadriplegic for a field firefighting role, and a woman’s shelter would likely not be required to hire male staff to assist women fleeing abusive male partners.
The Employment Standards Code
The Employment Standards Code (Alberta) contains many protections for employees in Alberta.
Employees are entitled to protected unpaid leaves from work for a variety of things, including:
- Maternity and Parental Leave
- Reservist Leave
- Compassionate Care Leave
- Death or Disappearance of Child Leave
- Critical Illness of Child Leave
- Long-Term Illness and Injury Leave
Your employer cannot normally fire you while you are on protected leave.
You don’t stop being human when you work. Even though you’re getting paid for your labor, it does not mean you can be treated as less than human.
Employment law protects and upholds your rights as a worker. To make sure you’re not being treated unfairly in your workplace, remember these common employment law issues:
- Wrongful termination. If you are fired without proper justification, the employer must pay you out of reasonable notice (severance).
- Overtime pay and minimum wage. You should get overtime pay for every extra hour you work. You should get your full wages without deductions of operational costs.
- There is no place for any form of harassment—physical or verbal—in the workplace.
- No workplace should tolerate any form of discrimination.
- Employment Standards Code. You are entitled to protected unpaid leave for many things involving your children and your health.