Employees can be dismissed for cause, and therefore without notice or severance, when their misconduct or performance is so egregious that the employment relationship has been irreparably harmed. In assessing this issue, employers must adopt a contextual approach, which considers not only the misconduct in question, but the entirety of the employment relationship.
According to the Supreme Court, “The Damages Formerly Known As Wallace” (damages for bad faith in the course of dismissal) are to be compensatory rather than arbitrary extensions of the notice period. But what if the employer acted in bad faith, but the employee didn't suffer any damages? What circumstances should justify an award?
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recently awarded a woman $35,000 after her employer fired her when she revealed on her first day of work that she was four months pregnant. (The award covered $20,000 in lost wages and benefits, and $15,000 for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect.) In addition to the damage award, given the overwhelming number of women working for the employer, the tribunal ordered the company to implement and distribute a written policy on the accommodation of pregnancy to ensure future compliance.