Job loss almost always comes as a shock. Many people define themselves by their job — when this disappears, it takes part of their identity. Luckily, job loss does not usually mean an immediate loss of income, since most dismissals involve some financial payment (usually referred to as “severance”).
If followed, a recent Ontario case could result in the elimination of many specific penalty clauses in employment contracts. A specific penalty clause states that if an employee engages in a specific behaviour then the employee agrees s/he can be terminated for just cause without any notice or termination pay in lieu of this notice.
In Render v ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Limited Group, the Ontario Court of Appeal clarified the threshold to establish willful misconduct under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 and provided guidance on how sexual harassment should be assessed in the workplace. Importantly, the Court found that while a single incident of inappropriate touching did not amount to willful misconduct as it was not preplanned, the employee's dismissal for cause was a proportionate response.