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What constitutes 'just cause' in termination of employment varies

When an employee is dismissed from his or her job many questions could arise for both that individual as well as the employer. Was the cause just? The answer to this question will depend upon a variety of factors.

In some cases the termination of employment will be preceded by progressive discipline. This course of action is designed to make it possible for the employee to learn why his or her behaviour was not okay and provides the opportunity to rectify the situation and show that he or she will not do it again. When an employee fails to demonstrate improvement, that individual could be dismissed and the reason behind the dismissal considered just.

There are certain situations in which a dismissal might still be considered just despite not being preceded by progressive discipline. This is illustrated in the dismissal of an employee in British Columbia after she was caught accessing the personal folder of a manager without permission from that employee. Two courts supported that dismissal, finding that the worker breached the trust that her employer placed upon her. One theory under which such decisions could be made is that the activity that the employee engaged in resulted in a breach of trust that cannot be repaired.

Terminating the employment of a worker for just cause without a series of events to support such action could be difficult to prove should the former employee decide to take legal action alleging wrongful termination. For this reason, even if the dismissal is warranted, it is a good idea for the employer to have a lawyer on its side who understands how to defend such cases should the terminated employee take legal action.

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