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What Is Just Cause Termination?

Most dismissals of Ontario workers are “without cause” dismissals, which entitle most employees to a minimum length of notice set out in Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (“ESA”). But in rare cases, there may be a serious problem involving the worker, which requires the employer to resort to ‘just cause termination.’

Dismissal with just cause has serious impacts on an employee. It entitles the employer to dismiss the employee without giving any notice; It is reflected on the employee’s Record of Employment and may make it difficult to get employment insurance. Because dismissal with just cause has serious consequences, there’s a high bar for justifying it. If you are dismissed with just cause, an employment lawyer may determine that you are entitled to something.

Note: The termination rules are different for federal employees (like bank and postal workers) who work under the Canadian Labour Code and for unionized employees who are governed by a collective agreement.

What is Just Cause Termination?

Just cause termination is dismissing an employee without notice. To merit an immediate dismissal, the employer must find a cause that makes it impossible to continue your employment—something that goes to the job’s core. 

In an extreme case, an employee might be fired because they are accused of a crime. Even in this scenario, the employer may not have just cause. Factors may include:

  • Whether the accusation has merit (or the employee is already convicted); 
  • The severity of the act; 
  • Whether the conduct has a direct impact on the ability of the employee to do their job;
  • Whether it hurts the morale of other employees;
  • Whether it hurts the reputation of the employer, particularly when the company is small and connected to the community; and
  • Whether the employee is accused of using their role with the employer to commit the crime;

Just cause might also include serious acts of dishonesty against the employer that destroy their trust in the employee.

Does Just Cause Termination Have To Be Deliberate?

An employer does not have to prove that an employee’s conduct is deliberate for a ‘just cause termination.’ In rare cases, an employer may dismiss an employee for just cause because they frequently miss work or perform poorly in their duties.

Employers must be careful when doing this: they should not do a just cause dismissal of an employee for these reasons without reminding them of expectations, giving them a warning that their job is in danger, and giving them sufficient time to improve.

An employer must also be careful and ensure they aren’t violating the employee’s human rights. An employee may have a disability that requires medical leave or some form of accommodation so they can perform their duties. An Ontario employer is required by Ontario’s Human Rights Act to provide an employee with reasonable accommodation to do their job.

What Can An Employment Lawyer Do?

An employment lawyer may not get a job back, but they may be able to get what the employee is entitled to if they have been wrongfully dismissed with just cause. This may include receiving weeks or months of termination pay because an employer did not give reasonable notice when dismissing an employee.

If the employer violates human rights when dismissing an employee, an employment lawyer may also be able to get a reward for damages due to injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect; such as a case where an employer dismisses an employee with just cause after a leave of absence even though the employee disclosed that they required this leave for medical reasons.

An employment lawyer may even be able to get an employer to change a record of employment to reflect that the employee was dismissed without cause, making it easier for the employee to receive employment insurance.

If you have been dismissed for just cause and given no notice, it’s essential to speak with an employment lawyer to know your rights.

Contact Us

Whether you are an employer or an employee looking for assistance with workplace issues or employment relationships, our skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced wrongful dismissal lawyers can advocate on behalf of businesses and employees at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at +1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we would be happy to assist.

If you are a small or medium-sized company looking for full-service support with a same-day response, visit our CLO Program page for our strategic solutions.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to serve as or should be construed as legal advice and is only to provide general information. It is in no way particular to your case and should not be relied on in any way. No portion or use of this blog will establish a lawyer-client relationship with the author or any related party. Should you require legal advice for your particular situation, fill out the contact form, call (800) 771-7882 or email [email protected]