demand letters

Employment Law: How Do Demand Letters Work?

Employees, or former employees, will send demand letters to their employer if there is a conflict in the workplace. As an example, perhaps an employee has worked with a company for twenty years. Reasons they may have to send a demand letter may include:

  • The employee has not been formally dismissed but is suspended indefinitely, are not getting any more shifts, or is otherwise prevented from working; or,
  • The employer or colleagues are discriminating against the human rights of the employee. 

If any of the above sounds like an experience you are facing, you may be wondering what your legal rights are. Speaking to an employment lawyer is the best-recommended action you can take next. 

An employment lawyer might advise you that your employer has acted unfairly or illegally towards you. While you might assume the only option is to sue your employer, one option is to send a demand letter, potentially leading to compensation in weeks, saving the need for an expensive, years-long court proceeding.

What Are Demand Letters?

A demand letter has purposes. The first is to outline what the other party has done wrong; For an employee, this could mean that your employer wrongfully dismissed you or violated your human rights. The outline involves summarizing all the events relevant to your circumstances, which could potentially cover the entire length of the employment.

The second purpose is to ask for compensation. Suppose you’ve worked for your company for years and are dismissed without cause. In that case, you may be able to demand they pay the equivalent months of salary as reasonable notice for your dismissal. In contrast, the company may have only given you weeks of notice to meet the legislative minimum. You may also be able to demand payment if you have been discriminated against or have lost your job because you had a disability and your employer failed to accommodate you.

An employee may be concerned about their termination’s effect on their reputation or ability to get another job. In this situation, the demand letter may ask an employer to modify the Record of Employment to reflect the employee was not dismissed for cause. They may also be asked to provide a positive reference letter.

What Are The Consequences of Demand Letters?

The major downside of a demand letter is that it will end the relationship with your employer. 

If an employee has is experiencing mistreatment by their workplace or discriminated against, they may already be uninterested in returning. Many employees also speak with a lawyer because they have already been dismissed and do not expect to return.

But there are some circumstances where an employee has previously been satisfied with the work relationship and wants to fix a temporary conflict. In these circumstances, we may recommend against sending a demand letter.

Some reasons an employment lawyer may recommend a demand letter may include the following: 

  • An employee’s work relationship has explicitly ended (with formal dismissal);
  • The employer has acted in a way that shows they no longer recognize that person as an employee—such as by removing access to the workplace or work files or putting the person on an indefinite suspension; or,
  • The workplace has become toxic to the point that the employee no longer feels safe working there.

Is It Better To Litigate Or Negotiate?

In some cases, the best option for an employee is to litigate—to start a lawsuit and take the issue to the legal system. This process will begin with sending a demand letter.

Sometimes, an employee is afraid to start a long, expensive process while trying to move on with their life. A demand letter can be a starting point for negotiation that does not have to end up in court. Suppose an employer receives a letter saying they’ve wronged an employee and owes compensation. They may sometimes be willing to make you a reasonable offer because they want to avoid an expensive and lengthy lawsuit.

A demand letter is an option when an employee hasn’t gotten what they’re entitled to in a dismissal. Every case is different, and some employers may refuse to make an offer. Still, sometimes a short negotiation process can convince an employer to compensate an employee with thousands of dollars or several months of salary.

Because of the complexity of every case, be sure to speak with an employment lawyer before deciding if a demand letter is right for you.

Contact Us

Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for assistance with workplace issues or employment relationships, our skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced wrongful dismissal lawyers can advocate on behalf of businesses and employees at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]