In limited circumstances, an employer is justified in dismissing the employee, without providing advance notice of termination or payment of a severance package. “Cause” is generally restricted to very severe employment infractions, such as theft, fraud, dishonesty, serious neglect of duty, sexual misconduct, or assault.
To determine whether just cause exists, a court will generally assess the gravity of the misconduct in question, the employee’s position, length of service, employment history and any past disciplinary record.
Does the punishment fit the crime? Not all workplace misconduct amounts to just cause for dismissal. There may be a variety of mitigating factors that weigh against dismissal for cause. A lesser workplace sanction may be justified, such as a written warning or a suspension.
Just cause is considered capital punishment in employment law. Terminating an employee for cause has significant reputational and financial implications to the employee, one’s ability to secure new employment and obtain employment insurance benefits. As a result, terminating the employee for just cause (and without any notice or severance) is generally only justified for very serious employment infractions.
Asserting ‘just cause’ is not taken lightly by the courts due to the severe financial and reputational implications to the employee. While in many cases the employer may have legitimate business reasons to terminate the employment relationship, in the vast majority of cases, the employee is still entitled to a severance package.
If an employer falsifies, exaggerates or otherwise trumps up allegations of ‘cause’ to avoid its severance obligations, an employer may be liable to pay additional compensation to the wrongfully dismissed employee, for its bad faith conduct.
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Call us at JPak Employment Lawyers for help today.