How do I File a Claim for Unfair Dismissal?

M. Lupica

Unfair dismissal occurs when an employer ends an employee’s employment for an unfair reason. Since most employment is considered “at will,” which means that either party has the right to terminate employment at any point for virtually any reason, unfair dismissal is often a difficult charge to prove. However, there are usually laws in place protecting employees from being fired for unfair reasons. The key to filing a successful claim for unfair dismissal is documenting evidence that indicates that you have been let go for one of these reasons.

Someone who has been fired unfairly might have legal options.
Someone who has been fired unfairly might have legal options.

Most dismissals from a job will not amount to an unfair dismissal claim because most circumstances for dismissal are considered fair. Employment is generally not a right, and companies cannot be forced to employ persons whose employment adversely affects the operation of their business. Usually, when employees are fired, it is due to poor conduct on the job or a poor job performance, which are perfectly legitimate reasons. Companies may also legally fire their employees if there is not enough work for them to justify the amount he or she is being paid or if his or her personality clashes with the desired work environment. The employee does not have to be “at fault” in order for the company to legally fire him or her.

Employees cannot be fired for absenteeism due to jury duty.
Employees cannot be fired for absenteeism due to jury duty.

For circumstances to dictate a claim for unfair dismissal, the employer typically will have had to violated laws specifically enacted to protect employees from such a dismissal. For instance, most jurisdictions have laws in place granting women the right to an unpaid maternity leave if she gets pregnant as well as a period of time off after the birth to take care of the child. Jurisdictions that have compulsory jury duty for their citizens will also protect them from being fired in the event that a person gets called to serve on a jury. Generally, governments will protect employees from being fired for fulfilling roles that are considered a societal necessity, as in the previous two examples of motherhood and jury duty.

If you think you have a claim for unfair dismissal, the key is building a body of evidence through documentation that identifies an unfair reason that you were dismissed. If you were fired soon after becoming pregnant, documenting the time you were fired and the point at which your employer realized you were pregnant is an example of evidence that tends to show you were fired due to your pregnancy. Taking the other example from above, showing that you were called to jury duty soon before you were fired would also help your case. Keeping a record of any conversation with any superior regarding the alleged unfair reason — especially tending to show he or she was unhappy with the circumstances — will help you in filing a successful claim for unfair dismissal.

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