Anyone involved in human resources may think that if an employee who works in a manufacturing facility surrounded by potential health and safety hazards is found sleeping on the job on more than one occasion, they should be dismissed for cause and disentitled to severance of any kind. That would be a reasonable “gut reaction” to this type of fact situation. In fact, such decisions are routinely upheld by both the courts and labour arbitrators.
Every organization has disciplinary concerns at some point in time arising from an employee’s actions which are deemed unacceptable to the employer and which may require some form of discipline to be administered. Generally, employees respect the need for discipline and usually appreciate having a disciplinary process that is deemed to be fair and impartial.
Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench recently confirmed that a termination for cause was inappropriate, given that it was not proportional to the employee’s conduct. As a result, the employer had to pay 12 months' severance as set out in the employment agreement regarding a termination without cause.