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just cause for dismissal

Termination clauses – The legal debate

It appears that the saga of judicial interpretation and consideration of termination clauses will continue, with predictably unpredictable results. Courts will enforce termination clauses that limit an individual’s entitlement to notice of dismissal, but the onus will be on the employer to show that the clause should be enforced.

 

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Supreme Court of Canada rules that employees of federally-regulated employers cannot be dismissed without cause

The impact of this decision will likely be very substantial for a number of reasons. By requiring federally-regulated employers to always provide just cause when terminating non-unionized employees, the Court significantly expanded on the common law and statutory protections available to a large part of the working population. As a consequence of this decision, employees of federally-regulated employers will now be awarded a significantly higher degree of employment protection than their colleagues in the private sector, whose rights are largely governed by less protective provincial laws.

 

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Refusing to relocate: Just cause for dismissal?

It is not uncommon for an organization to move their offices, or to “transfer” an employee from one location to another. Sometimes, the move is across the street, while other moves are across the country or farther. What happens if an employee refuses to relocate?

 

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When your employee is arrested

What is an employer to do when it discovers that one of their employees has been arrested? In many cases, the employer’s knee-jerk reaction will be to dismiss the employee, particularly where the charges relate to more unsavoury conduct. However, the law is clear that like most off-duty conduct, being charged with a criminal offence will not, in and of itself, be just cause for dismissal.

 

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A brief overview of just cause cases

As any follower of Canadian employment law already knows, there are many grey areas and very few “black-and-white” rules. One of the greyer areas is summary dismissal; evaluating when an employer has just cause to terminate the employment relationship is fraught with uncertainty. Contrary to popular belief, there are no absolute rules and there are no types of misconduct that will guarantee the existence of just cause for dismissal.

 

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Summary dismissal in Canada is complex

By now, regular readers should understand that summary dismissal in Canada is complex, and assessing whether or not just cause for dismissal exists requires much more than consideration of the alleged misconduct in isolation.

 

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Building the just cause wall brick by brick

I am often asked what it takes to prove that summary dismissal is warranted. Can a single incident of misconduct be sufficient? What about a series of less serious incidents?

 

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Assessing whether just cause is warranted: A yearly review

In the course of updating my text, You’re Fired! Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada, I review every single court and arbitrator’s decision dealing with just cause for dismissal. Not surprisingly, these can be pretty entertaining. However, the cases also confirm a few truths:

 

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Investigations have become an integral part of HR and employment law

Investigations have become an integral part of HR and employment law, and an employee’s conduct in the course of an investigation can be the difference between summary dismissal and some lesser form of punishment.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with retiring allowance and vesting of pension benefits; after-acquired cause to justify termination; and workplace drug test.

 

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The importance of workplace investigations

As I head to Osgoode Professional Development for module 3 of the course that my partner and I are Directors of, HR Law for HR Professionals, I am contemplating one of the aspects of HR law that has changed significantly in recent years: investigations.

 

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Employers may be able to rely upon after-acquired cause

Although I have been known to reassure employers that “just cause is not a lost cause”, it is fair to say that the threshold for establishing that summary dismissal is warranted is a difficult one to meet in most circumstances. One question that often arises is what an employer is to do when they only learned of reasons for dismissal after the dismissal has already taken place. This can occur in situations where an employee was dismissed on a without cause basis, or in situations where the termination was for cause. Either way, the issue is what an employer can do with subsequently obtained information, which is typically referred to as “after-acquired cause”.

 

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Delayed termination of employee sometimes weaken position for just cause dismissal

“We cannot continue to tolerate John’s misconduct, and we have decided to dismiss him for cause… once we get through the trade show next month.” Famous last words? Well, they will certainly weaken the position that just cause for dismissal existed in the circumstances. If an employer truly believes that they have just cause for dismissal, the employee should not be permitted to continue working, as that is entirely inconsistent with the notion that the employer could not continue to keep the employee on.

 

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Balancing just cause for dismissal and accommodation

Ontario-auto-shop-employee-loses-job-over-Twitter-search-for-marijuana

Recently, a Mr. Lube employee tweeted a request for some marijuana to help him get through his shift. This may have gone unnoticed by the media, but it came to the attention of the York Regional Police, who used their Twitter account to respond by asking, “Can we come too?” Presumably, his employers were asking a different question: “Can we fire him?”

 

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So when is a threat just cause for dismissal?

A recent decision rendered by an Ontario Arbitrator raises questions about the hard line that seemed to have been taken by adjudicators as a result of An Act to amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace and other matters (formerly Bill 168), which amended the Occupational Health & Safety Act in order to address workplace violence and harassment.

 

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