Some employees are surprised to learn that a Lethbridge employer can lawfully terminate your employment at any time – if they provide reasonable notice.

Without this, they require “just cause”, which is often very difficult to prove.

What is termination with just cause in Lethbridge?

Just Cause Termination in LethbridgeThere are three ways that a Lethbridge employer can lawfully terminate your employment:

  • Without cause by providing reasonable notice according to Alberta’s Employment Standards
  • Without cause by providing severance pay in lieu of notice
  • With cause by proving that there was a valid reason for termination

Effectively, then, if your employer wants to dismiss you lawfully without providing reasonable notice or severance pay in lieu of notice, a valid reason must be provided.

Generally, just cause dismissals involve serious misconduct or a series of performance or behavioural issues that result in termination of employment.

There are some obvious examples of serious misconduct in the workplace, such as theft from an employer or violence against another member of staff.

However, some Lethbridge employers have used just cause as a reason to terminate employees unlawfully.

COMMON EMPLOYER ALLEGATIONS OF JUST CAUSE TERMINATION IN LETHBRIDGE

Employee misconduct must be serious enough to justify termination.

This means that there needs to be either a serious breach of the employment contract or repeated performance or behavioural issues that are not addressed by the employee, rendering the relationship with the employer beyond repair.

Some common employer allegations of just cause in Lethbridge include:

  • Insubordination or failure to follow company policies or procedures
  • Incompetence or incapability to perform the duties required of a position
  • Theft or dishonesty
  • Falsifying company records for personal gain
  • Violence, threats or another serious breach of conduct

WHO NEEDS TO PROVE JUST CAUSE IN TERMINATION CASES?

If you are fired with just cause and you challenge the decision of your employer, the employer needs to prove that there was a valid reason for your termination. The onus is not on you to disprove the allegation.

The courts in Canada hold that one’s employment is of such significance to our society that the onus should be on employers to demonstrate that an employee’s conduct destroyed the employment relationship to such a degree that he or she deserved to be terminated.

Proof of just cause is no simple matter, in many cases. The court will look at all of the circumstances and factors involved before determining if the employer’s just cause decision was lawful.

The employer must show that the decision was a reasonable and proportionate response to the alleged wrongdoing. Cases can be complex and must consider the following factors:

  • The circumstances surrounding the dismissal
  • The seniority of the employee
  • The employee’s past record, including disciplinary record
  • The results of any disciplinary investigation

In cases of serious misconduct, the wrongdoing may be a little easier to prove for the employer.

However, when there are supposed repeated issues that go unaddressed by employees or behavioural issues that go against the culture of the workplace, this can be more difficult to prove.

For instance, to prove that an employee habitually neglected their duty or was incompetent at carrying out the role is more challenging for an employer.

An employer generally needs to show that adequate opportunities were provided to address the issues and multiple written warnings issued prior to termination.

WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A JUST CAUSE DETERMINATION?

If your employer dismissed you with just cause, you will likely receive no notice period, no severance pay, and it may affect your future employment as you are unlikely to receive a good employment reference.

Employers are within their rights to fire you on the spot without even providing the minimum notice period according to the Employment Standards.

If there is any doubt that your dismissal was lawful, it is advisable to see if it can be challenged.

An experienced employment lawyer from Taylor Janis LLP can provide advice on whether your employer acted lawfully.

JUST CAUSE TERMINATION IS GREAT FOR LETHBRIDGE EMPLOYERS

The courts are aware that just cause terminations are favourable for employers. It releases them from the responsibility of providing an opportunity to find alternative employment after termination via a notice period or severance.

Employers in Lethbridge can potentially save thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars by avoiding reasonable notice/severance.

For you and your family, your financial security may be on the line and it is no trivial matter.

Because it is an employer’s interests to claim just cause, each case should be carefully examined to ensure it has merit – or whether a situation has been “engineered” by the employer. False allegations are common.

A good guideline is to assess the employment relationship: if it can reasonably continue despite the employee’s conduct, the case for just cause may be weak. Another form of discipline might have been more appropriate.

Sometimes, the heat of the moment gets the better of employers and an employee is fired without following correct HR procedures. You can hold them liable for this.

With respect to the potential to engineer situations to save money, just cause cases may have similarities to constructive dismissal claims.

Even if the employer does not have enough evidence for a just cause dismissal, you may be intimidated into quitting or accepting an inadequate severance package. This strategy may also be unlawful and should not be tolerated without taking legal advice.

TERMINATED WITHJUST CAUSE IN LETHBRIDGE?

Did your employer really have just cause to terminate you?

If your employment has been terminated in Lethbridge, we are here to listen to your side of the story.

We may be able to secure compensation in the form of severance or another settlement based on your employer’s level of liability for wrongful dismissal.

At Taylor Janis LLP, we have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to handle all of your employment & labour law needs.

To arrange a one-on-one consultation and document review with one of our employment lawyers, please contact us today at (403) 365-4303 in Lethbridge.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT TERMINATION WITH JUST CAUSE IN LETHBRIDGE

Our Just Cause Primer introduces key concepts and examples related to just cause terminations in Lethbridge. Follow the links below or download a PDF copy to learn more.

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