Defining Wrongful Dismissal: The Alberta Schism

  • Dennis D. Buchanan


The law in Alberta regarding wrongful dismissal is at odds. The source of this schism is the moment of breach when an employee is dismissed with insufficient notice. The “Mandatory Notice” doctrine holds it is at the moment of termination, while the “Contractual Option” doctrine holds that the breach occurs on failure to provide reasonable notice or pay in lieu of notice. While the Mandatory Notice doctrine is considered trite law in other jurisdictions, Alberta has continued to develop case law supporting the Contractual Option. However, the Contractual Option doctrine suffers from several fatal flaws which highlight illogical theoretical and practical results flowing from its application. Therefore, this trend must reverse and Alberta must return to the Mandatory Notice doctrine.