If you are an employee in a niche market, you need to be aware of your employee severance entitlements upon your employment ending due to a layoff decision during the COVID-19 economic downturn. Bell Media is one recent example of many, but sticking with this example, consider the job cuts of local sports broadcasters and news anchors in Hamilton, Vancouver, and Winnipeg as a fact-specific real-life scenario.

If you are bound by an unwritten or written employment agreement without a termination clause, you are generally owed one month of pay for each complete year of continuous service under common law. The courts have affirmed that reasonable notice of payment in lieu of notice and the employee severance entitlements are higher during COVID-19 due to the difficulty this has caused in finding comparable employment – presumably, the economic downturn would create greater difficulties finding a comparable job so your employer would owe you more notice of your job being terminated or payment in lieu.

Further, with the example of local sports broadcasters, this is definitely a niche market. The fact that local sports teams may have canceled seasons (the CFL for instance has been canceled for the 2020-2021 season), the demand for local sports broadcasters is reasonably presumed to be even lower. This is another factor that would contribute to a higher severance payment owed.

Lastly, if you are an employee subject to a written employment contract with a termination provision, this provision may be invalid due to the strict standards the courts hold such clauses to. This means that you may be entitled to the greater common law notice even though the provisions of your employment contract state otherwise.

If you are in the sports media industry and have suffered from a recent layoff or termination, seek the advice of an employment lawyer. You are entitled to a greater severance payment and employee severance entitlements during these tough economic times. An employment lawyer will ensure you receive what is fair, which is likely greater than the general rule of one month per year of service due to the circumstances COVID-19 has created in the job market. We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.

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