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Key Factors When Defending a Claim

If you are an employer and a dismissed employee is accusing you of wrongful dismissal, you may be facing a lawsuit. Typically, lawsuits happen after private negotiations have failed, and the dismissed employee is continuing to pursue the matter. Their claim will argue to the court that you wronged them and owe them damages. Defending yourself is crucial when being served a claim. This article outlines key factors when defending a claim. However, it is advised to have an employment lawyer clarify the process, help you prepare, and obtain the best result.

Defending A Claim: What Is A Defence?

Depending on circumstances, a Defence (or Statement of Defence) is a formal legal document defending a claim. This document is filed in court. It gets delivered to the other party to argue allegations they are claiming are incorrect. This document also argues you don’t owe the damages your former employee is claiming.

Failing to defend yourself has serious consequences. If your former employee files and sends you their claim and you fail to reply by filing a Defence, they can ask a judge to make a decision in your absence. The judge will be asked to approve the damages they are requesting. 

Below are some of the most influential factors an employment lawyer includes when writing a Defence:

Three Most Effective Factors When Defending a Claim

1. A Strong Opposing Argument

Defending a claim is done by writing a Defence. When writing a defence, it is not enough to say the allegations in the claim are wrong. If a former employee has only sent a demand letter asking for termination pay, it may be acceptable to reply by denying all allegations and refusing to offer anything. This is unless a lawsuit is already starting. In this case, it’s necessary to respond fully in a Defence and address all reasons the allegations are without merit.

Some examples are:

  • If the former employee argues they were wrongly dismissed for just cause, it is necessary to explain the cause that justified their dismissal;
  • If they ask for damages for bad faith conduct, you must explain why you did not act in bad faith, and that those damages are not appropriate;

2. Weaknesses In Their Argument

A strong Defence also points out weaknesses in the employee’s allegations which helps when defending a claim. Suppose the former employee argues you failed to accommodate a disability so they could work. In that case, it strengthens your argument if you can truthfully say you were never informed of a disability or asked to be accommodated.

It is also possible the former employee fails to meet their obligations in the lawsuit. Examples of this are:

  • They failed to file their claim within the limitation period; and,
  • After their dismissal, they failed to limit their damages by searching for new jobs.

Issues like these are important to raise: they can potentially limit the damages the former employee can claim or prevent them from continuing with the lawsuit altogether.

3. Evidence Of Due Diligence

When defending a claim, justifying anything you are alleging using evidence you possess is important for Defence. If you dismissed the former employee for just cause, you need to show records of disciplinary action and correspondence making it clear to the employee that their job was in danger.

If the dismissal is related to a breach of the employment contract, the contract should clearly lay out the expectations for the former employee. It needs to be clear they did not meet these expectations.

Suppose the former employee alleges you violated their human rights by failing to accommodate them. In that case, important evidence can include a policy of accommodation in the contract and records of correspondence where you ask the employee to communicate any accommodation needs.

Why Is Defending A Claim Important?

Defending a claim is important if you ever receive a claim from a former employee. It admits to the court the former employee is correct in their claim. It can also lead to serious costs for the employer. An employment lawyer can advise you on your case, explain the steps in defending against the claim, and represent you through the lawsuit process.

Further Reading:

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Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for assistance with workplace issues or employment relationships, our skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced employment 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 will be happy to assist.

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