What is Unfair Dismissal?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2020
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Unfair dismissal is termination from employment that has nothing to do with an employee’s performance or abilities. For example, in many places, fair dismissal occurs when an employee is fired because he failed to show up for work or did his job poorly. If the employee is terminated because of pregnancy, participation in a union, race, sex, or disability, however, the dismissal may be considered unfair. Fortunately, some countries have laws that protect employees against unfair dismissal.

Each country has unique laws when it comes to the treatment of employees and terminations. In some countries, an employer can terminate an employee for just about any reason. In others, however, employers are supposed to have reasonable cause for terminating an employee. Since the regulations do vary from place to place, an individual may do well to check his jurisdiction’s specific laws if he feels that he has been unfairly terminated.


There are many situations that may constitute an unfair dismissal. In many jurisdictions, it is considered unfair to terminate a person’s employment because he joins a union or participates in its activities. Likewise, it may be considered an unfair dismissal if a person’s employment is terminated because he tries to take advantage of an employment protection right or engages in reasonable actions to protect his health or safety or that of his coworkers. Additionally, some jurisdictions consider a dismissal unfair if it is due to pregnancy, maternity leave, jury duty, or refusing to work on Sundays in a retail store.

The remedies for unlawful dismissal also vary from place to place. In some jurisdictions, a person who feels he has be unfairly dismissed may sue his former employer in court. In others, a person who has been denied benefits after dismissal may attempt to prove that he was unfairly dismissed. In such a case, he may receive the benefits despite his employer's desire to deny them. For example, if a person is entitled to temporary unemployment benefits after being dismissed through no fault of his own, proving that he was unfairly dismissed may allow him to collect unemployment benefits that might otherwise be denied.

The laws regarding unfair dismissal and its remedies can be complex. As such, a person who feels he has been unfairly dismissed may do well to consult an attorney. An attorney who understands his jurisdiction's employment laws may help the party figure out whether his dismissal was unfair and which remedies are available to him.


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