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post-termination conduct

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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Can an employer argue cause when discovered after dismissal?

An employer decides to dismiss an employee without notice and without legal cause. Subsequent to the dismissal, in reviewing the employee’s work, the employer discovers a number of errors which, if known at the time, would have been sufficient to support a dismissal for cause. Can the employer successfully argue cause in defence of a wrongful dismissal claim? This is a question I have been asked many times by employers, as a review of a dismissed employee’s work after dismissal often reveals significant errors or, in some cases, outright dishonesty.

 

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