Osuji & Smith EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS Advise Calgary Employees Facing Layoffs

Osuji & Smith EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS Advise Calgary Employees Facing Layoffs

Charles Osuji

Charles Osuji

August 25, 2021 04:48 PM

Alberta employees in multiple sectors have faced unprecedented layoffs over the past year because of the effects of COVID-19. From oil & gas workers to Alberta government employees, Alberta Health Services to Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, unemployment struck home for many.

Osuji & Smith, an award-winning full service Calgary law firm, is committed to supporting Calgary employees facing layoffs.

Osuji & Smith Employment Lawyers Advise Calgary Employees Facing Layoffs


Founded in 1980, Osuji & Smith has tirelessly served Calgary employees for over 4 decades. The firm was voted as one of the top employment, business, civil litigation, estate planning, and divorce law firms in Calgary. It is also the proud recipient of the 2021 Top Choice Awards in Calgary among several other awards and recognitions.

The dedicated and approachable employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith advise and represent Calgary employees facing lay-offs. The top priority is to ensure that employees have all the information they need to make informed decisions and to stand up for their rights.

Osuji & Smith employment lawyers provide services like:

  • Reviewing employment agreements and contracts;
  • Employment insurance claims;
  • Severance package reviews;
  • Executive compensation and termination issues;
  • Employee rights to pension and fringe benefits upon termination;
  • Wrongful dismissal and constructive dismissal claims; and
  • Employment litigation.

For Calgary employees facing layoffs, the employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith understand the financial stress involved in this unexpected situation. They present options and a recommended plan to move forward, and can have conversations with your employer to negotiate terms. If necessary, they will file a claim for you.

Canadian Law & Employee Layoffs

The entire world economy has been hit hard by COVID-19, but the impact on Alberta has been exceptional. The Government has responded by changing legislation to reflect workplace realities caused by the ongoing pandemic.

A key change extends the temporary layoff period defined in the Employment Standards Code. The Code requires employers to give employees a minimum notice period – typically a minimum of 7 days, though shorter notice is allowed in situations like COVID-19 where the circumstances were unforeseeable. The length of this period depends on the reason for the layoff – whether it’s because of COVID-19.

Termination pay is not required during the temporary layoff period. Only when the employment termination comes into effect is the employer required to pay.

The law defines a layoff as a temporary situation. If the employer has no intention of recalling the laid-off employees, it’s actually a termination. Or if the layoff period exceeds the length set by the Code, it becomes a termination. Employer termination notice obligations are different for group terminations.


Layoffs and terminations can be complicated. In addition to the shock of suddenly being unemployed, Calgary employees facing layoffs must consider:

Every situation is different. And because the law is developing to address the uniqueness of circumstances caused by COVID-19, in some cases, there is no legal precedent.

Some of the Calgary employees facing layoffs may have a wrongful dismissal or constructive dismissal claim.


A wrongful dismissal is when an employer terminates an employee without protecting the legal rights of that employee. For example:

  • Termination without just cause or without a reason allowable by law
  • Termination without reasonable notice or without the full amount of pay the employee has a right to

Employees who were wrongfully dismissed still have a legal obligation to take reasonable action to find a new job while pursuing a claim against their former employer.

If your case is determined to be a wrongful dismissal, you may be entitled to notice period payment, extra compensation for mental distress, and punitive damages.

Constructive Dismissal lawyers Calgary

A constructive dismissal is when an employer significantly changes the terms of the employment contract without advance notice or without the employee’s consent. For example:

  • a reduction of salary
  • redefining primary job duties

Another scenario that might fit constructive dismissal criteria is when an employee is forced to quit their job because of a toxic, hostile, or unsafe work environment.

Constructive dismissal cases can be complicated at the best of times, but even more so during the pandemic. Many employers have no choice but to lay off employees and, in some cases, are required by law to shut down.

Legal Advice for Laid Off Calgary Employees

The complexities of temporary layoffs and employment termination, the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19, and the uniqueness of every employment contract and every employer-employee relationship all mean there is no absolute answer to individual questions about employee layoffs.

The award-winning employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith strongly recommend that employees do not sign any documents from their employer before obtaining legal advice. The law requires employers to give employees reasonable opportunity to seek independent legal counsel before signing a release or severance offer.

Osuji & Smith is prepared to support and advise any Calgary employee facing a layoff. They will review your contract, release or severance forms before you sign them, and provide options for next steps, including filing your claim, if necessary.


Charles Osuji is the Managing Partner and CEO of Osuji & Smith. He has appeared at all levels of Court in Alberta and has gained valuable experience representing a wide range of clients.

Says Kathy S., a satisfied client, “When I was wrongly dismissed from my job I was feeling very negative… until I spoke to Charles Osuji…

Charles is an amazing listener. As I told him of the circumstances of my dismissal he asked all of the right questions to determine whether or not I had a case against this employer.

He told me that if he did not think anything could be done to rectify this situation he would always be honest with me.

He was always available to me during the 18 months we worked through the process… first trying to negotiate a settlement and finally setting a court date. Charles was honest with me without giving me false hope.

I would recommend him to anyone who has an employment injustice. 10 out of 10 stars for Osuji & Smith!”

Awarded as one of the top 25 most influential lawyers in Canada along with an impressive list of other awards and recognitions, Calgary employees are in excellent hands with Charles Osuji and his dedicated team of employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith.

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