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This employer’s case had 99 problems – Proving cause was one

A recent case out of Calgary, Karmel v. Calgary Jewish Academy, presents some valuable lessons for Alberta employers. This case involves a wrongful dismissal lawsuit by a terminated School Principal, Mr. Karmel, who was alleged to have been disobedient.

 

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Context is key: New trial for dismissed CIBC employee

In a decision handed down April 27, 2015, the British Columbia Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. In particular, the court found that the trial judge had misapprehended the evidence and CIBC’s legal arguments, such that the trial judge’s overall conclusion could not stand.

 

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Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk

Three popular articles this week on HRinfodesk deal with a breach of trust in an employment relationship; accommodating addiction problem; and a constructive dismissal claim.

 

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Even long-term employees with a clean record can be handed a lengthy suspension when it is warranted

A recent Ontario Grievance Settlement Board case highlights the point that, even where employees are long-term and have a clean service record, they can still be subject to serious discipline if the circumstances are right.

 

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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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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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Post-treatment agreements and accommodating alcoholism

A recent arbitrator’s decision concerned the enforceability of a pre-treatment agreement allowing an employer to terminate a unionized employee if he failed to abstain from the consumption of alcohol.

 

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What’s cause got to do with it?

At times, employers despair at the perceived narrowing of the requirements of just cause for termination. With many adjudicators focused on progressive discipline, summarily dismissing an employee, even for serious misconduct, requires caution and often a well-researched legal opinion.

 

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The courts giveth, and the courts taketh away

The law of employment, like every area, is always evolving. This often works to the consternation of both employers and employees, who would like to have a sense of certainty regarding their rights and obligations. While it may sound self-serving, the ongoing evolution of the law is another reason why it is important to work with an employment lawyer on a regular basis, rather than consult once and assume that the law is the same a decade later. The cases below also serve as reminders of the unpredictability of the law.

 

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Duty to fairly and thoroughly investigate alleged misconduct before taking disciplinary action

One aspect of the law relating to termination of employment that has developed in recent years is the obligation of an employer to fairly and thoroughly investigate alleged misconduct before taking disciplinary action. Several decisions over the past few years have made it clear that if an employer fails to investigate, or fails to investigate properly, before dismissing an employee for cause, they are likely to face damages for wrongful dismissal, as well as extraordinary damages relating to the matter of dismissal and the impact on the employee.

 

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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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Most-viewed articles this week on HRinfodesk

The three most viewed articles on HRinfodesk this week deal with the duty to mitigate; how the employer’s failure to ask an employee about questionable expenses prior to termination means no just cause; and how an employer and manager were both liable for human rights violation against a pregnant employee.

 

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Big brother contestants – rightfully terminated?

The CBS reality show Big Brother recently made headlines when two of its female contestants were fired from their jobs back home due to racist and homophobic comments made towards fellow contestants. Because the contestants have no contact with the outside world while on the show, neither person is aware that they have been fired or that their workplaces have spoken to the media about their terminations.

 

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Employer sexually harassed adolescent employee

The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication just found that a teenaged employee was sexually harassed by her employer with persistent unwelcome sexual conduct. This finding was underscored by the power imbalance, age difference and generational communication issues present. That said, the harassment was considered to be at the most mild end of the spectrum of sexual harassment.

 

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