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Wrongful termination: What is just cause?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2017 | Wrongful Termination |

When an employee in British Columbia loses his or her job through dismissal, the worker may have several questions. These can be related to the employer’s right to fire the person and whether there was just cause for the dismissal. The employee may also have questions about his or her rights to sue for wrongful termination.

Under normal circumstances, an employer must provide either a notice of dismissal or payment to replace such notice to release an employee without just cause. However, if there is just cause, the employee can be fired without notice or pay. Just cause typically means the employer had a valid reason for the termination such as an employee refusing to carry out instructions, embezzlement or other serious transgressions.

Some examples of just cause include the use of alcohol or drugs that affect work performance, intentional disregard of rules or instructions, or consistent refusal to follow the chain of authority. Starting a similar business while still employed constitutes a conflict of interest and may be just cause for dismissal. Also, if a person does not have the skills that he or she claimed to have — and for which he or she was appointed — it can be seen as dishonesty and incompetence which can justify termination.

Any British Columbia employee who questions an employer’s claim that there was just cause for dismissal is entitled to sue for wrongful termination. However, it can be tricky to navigate such a lawsuit, and it may be advisable to consult with a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with employment law issues. He or she can explain the dismissed employee’s rights, assess the circumstances and determine the viability of a claim. If grounds for a lawsuit exist, the lawyer can advocate for the employee throughout the legal proceedings that will follow, aiming to achieve the best possible resolution.

Source:, “If you’re fired — wrongful dismissal“, Accessed on Aug. 25, 2017



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