A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has confirmed that, in certain scenarios, an employee’s dishonesty in the hiring process will constitute cause for dismissal. In this case, the plaintiff’s claim for wrongful termination was dismissed when the court found that the plaintiff's omission on a security questionnaire amounted to dishonesty that went to the core of the employment relationship and was irreconcilable with sustained employment.
I have often discussed the need for warnings in the context of summary dismissal. While some situations will justify dismissal based upon a single incident, in many cases our courts and arbitrators will require progressive discipline. Whatever the steps may be, it is critical that the messaging to the subject employee be clear: the conduct or behavior is unacceptable, and further instances will lead to discipline, which can include termination for cause.
A 62 year old Mississauga teacher with 10 years of service experienced the joy of winning a huge damage award in the face of allegations of just cause at trial only to have the trial decision squarely overruled by a majority of the Ontario Court of Appeal with significant cost consequences to account for. While the Ontario Court of Appeal often gives Trial Judges significant deference in their decisions, the Court of Appeal found that the Trial Judge misapplied the facts to the proper law on just cause dismissal and overruled the entire decision and awarded the employer significant costs on both the trial and appeal.