The Court acknowledged that an employer may allege just cause, and later abandon that claim at any time. The Court held that it wouldn’t be appropriate to penalize an employer for changing its mind if it initially had a reasonable basis to believe it had just cause to terminate an employee. As such, it is important to investigate and document any evidence of employee misconduct, and to act accordingly.
Since Honda v. Keays, employment law and human resources practitioners have been watching how the law regarding bad faith dismissals has developed, in particular, the assessment of moral damages. A recently published decision has added some clarity to the moral damages question. The case, Canada (Attorney General) v. Tipple (2011) dealt with the well known case of Douglas Tipple.
Employers are often at a loss as to how to ensure employees who take sick days are really sick and not simply abusing the system. They are often scared to ask for doctor’s notes, but also scared that if they don’t, the abuse will become rampant. I often encourage employers to consider abandoning the notion of sick days altogether, and simply provide a fixed number of “personal days”, which eliminates the implicit or explicit requirement that an individual be sick in order to have time off.