For Cause Termination Is Complex
Whether you’re an employer terminating an employee or you’re the employee who’s been terminated, we know it’s a challenging situation. These situations also involve very detailed and complicated legal requirements, steps and laws. To avoid legal problems with an employee or running into issues with Employment Standards, we suggest you seek advice. For cause terminations, also called just cause terminations or firings, involve many specific requirements for proper execution. Read on for more information on your rights as an employee and obligations as an employer.
Deciding to terminate an employee means determining whether the employer has cause to summarily terminate or whether the employee is entitled to termination pay and, possibly, severance. Our Kahane Law employment lawyers in Edmonton, Alberta help.
When You Should Hire A Lawyer For A Termination
If you’re an employer considering an employee termination, we recommend seeking legal advice to avoid the legal pitfalls of an improper termination with or without cause. We can also provide employees with advice if they have been terminated with cause and no severance or without cause with severance. Our skilled employment lawyers at Kahane Law Office will tailor legal advice to your unique circumstances and specific needs.
Just Cause Termination: What is it?
In Alberta, employers can terminate an employee’s position for just cause, also known as for cause, or without cause. Without proper legal advice or HR guidance, employers sometimes use the wrong form of termination in the heat of the moment, exposing the employer to liabilities such as claims for wrongful dismissal, lost wage claims, insufficient notice or severance, human rights claims and more.
Below, we’ve outlined some basic but fundamental examples of differences between just cause and without cause terminations.
Without Cause Employee Firing
Without cause terminations allow an employer to manage its workforce. Provided an employer gives an employee adequate notice or severance in lieu, and provided no human rights discrimination takes place, an employer can terminate anyone at any time, without cause.
Without cause terminations include the following, but many other situations exist:
- The employee lacks any sort of good fit anymore with the company;
- The employer is restructuring operations;
- The employee’s job performance is unsatisfactory job but doesn’t reach just cause threshold;
- The economy is in a downturn or the employer is facing economic; and
- For whatever reason, the employer no longer needs the employee’s services.
Employee Terminations For Just Cause
An employer carries the burden of proving just cause, meaning it’s not up to the employee to disprove. A high legal burden of proof must exists for any just cause terminations in Alberta. The employer must show the decision was reasonable and proportionate to the alleged wrongdoing, and that many factors were considered, including the employee’s record and past progressive discipline received, the surrounding circumstances, the seniority of the employee and results of any disciplinary investigation.
A single incident or a series of small incidents may warrant a just cause termination, including but not limited to:
- Records falsification;
- Any misconduct that severely damages essential trust implied in all employment relationship, to the point that no possibility of repairing it exists;
- Repeated incompetence, poor performance, neglect of duty, lateness and absenteeism;
- Repudiating, undermining or offending fundamental terms in the employment agreement;
- Abandonment, insubordination and acts of dishonesty;
- Misconduct that harm’s the employer’s reputation and business, and is incompatible with the employee’s duties;
- One incident that is criminal or quasi-criminal; and
- Threatened violence or violent activity.
Proving Termination For Cause
Employers often have a challenging time proving termination for cause, and it’s often more difficult when the termination is based on a series of smaller, repeated incidents. As noted, the burden of proof rests with the employer. When examining a termination case, the courts consider the type of behavior that triggered a termination for cause, along with the following factors:
- The employee’s position;
- The nature or type of the employee’s misconduct;
- The business’s nature;
- Workplace culture; and lastly
- If the misconduct happened at work or outside of work.
How To Test Whether The Termination Is For Cause
If you’re an employer trying to determine whether or not a situation calls for just cause termination, ask yourself one objective question: does the employee’s impugned action or conduct make it more or less impossible for the employer/employee relationship to continue on any kind of reasonable basis? If the employment relationship can continue, then just cause termination is likely not warranted, but a lesser form of discipline is probably justified and appropriate.
No matter your situation, we recommend seeking legal advice from an employment lawyer prior to terminating an employee for just cause. And if you’re an employee that’s been terminated for cause, we also encourage you to hire an employment lawyer at Kahane Law Office to review the specifics of your situation.
What Is Reasonable Notice?
We advise you consult with a lawyer to determine what constitutes reasonable notice or severance in lieu. we establish this by looking at specific situational details and Alberta case law. If you’re an employee who received a severance package, we highly suggest you meet with an employment lawyer to review the terms. We’ll ensure the package is complete and fair, and that it addresses all areas of your benefits and compensation.
Hire A Kahane Law Lawyer For A Just Cause Or For Cause Termination
Whether you’re an employer or an employee, please don’t hesitate to contact Kahane Law employment lawyers for assistance and information. We can provide guidance on terminations, proper severance calculations and legal considerations specific to your circumstances. For a quick reply, please email us the basic details of your situation; you can email us directly here. You can also call the Kahane Law Office in Edmonton, Alberta at (780) 571-8463 to arrange an appointment.