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Covid-19 Limitation Periods for Wrongful Dismissal Actions

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So you’re one of many who has been dismissed or are otherwise out of a job.

Has covid-19 changed your deadline for filling a civil claim for a wrongful dismissal action?   

Maybe. It depends on when you were dismissed.

If your claim is a wrongful dismissal action without any other issues, then generally the limitation period is two years from the date of dismissal.

On March 26, 2020, the government of B.C. suspended limitation periods for commencing civil proceedings in B.C. courts.  

So, between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021, limitation periods for commencing civil proceedings in court were not accruing.

This affects limitation periods in different ways depending on when the claim arose.

Let’s look at two examples.

First, if you were dismissed between March 26, 2018 but before March 25, 2019, generally add one year to the limitation period that would have applied had there been no suspension.

So, if for example you were dismissed on April 27, 2018, had there been no suspension, the limitation period would normally expire two years later, on April 27, 2020. But limitation periods were suspended then.  Adding one year to this means the new limitation period is April 27, 2021.

Second, if on the other hand you were dismissed after March 26, 2019 but before March 26, 2020, generally add one year to the limitation period that would have applied had there been no suspension.

So, if for example you were dismissed on June 1, 2019, without the suspension, the limitation period would normally expire on June 1, 2021. But because of the suspension, the new limitation period is June 1, 2022.

Claims that were already statute-barred before March 26, 2020 are not affected by the suspension.

Clear as mud? The Law society of B.C. has an interpretive aid posted on its website.

There are other circumstances, separate from covid-19, which can affect limitation periods.

The specific limitation period in any particular case depends on the specifics of the situation. This can be a surprisingly involved area.

There is an entire body of law on limitations issues. Entire legal books focus on the sole issue of determining the date upon which a claim becomes statue-barred.

So, like all other things legal, if this is relevant to you, it is important to ensure your specific circumstance is properly assessed as soon as possible.   

Interested in deadlines amid the covid-19 pandemic for commencing judicial reviews? Check out last week's article.

Disclaimer:   This is a modified version of an article appearing in April, 2021 in online publications including the Kelowna Capital News. This article is for educational purposes only, and to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. By viewing it, you agree that there is no lawyer-client relationship between you and the website publisher. Nothing here can be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a practicing lawyer in your province with experience in dealing with the specific circumstances of your situation.  We may be reached through our website at inspirelaw.ca