Just Cause in Wrongful Dismissals: Which 4 Factors Do Courts Look At?

The area of wrongful dismissal is a complex one. If you feel you have been wrongfully dismissed, the best thing you can do is to get the advice of an employment lawyer who has expertise in this area. On your own, you will have no clue what your next step is, or if there's anything you can do. As the employee, you'll feel that you were unjustly fired. Here are several factors a court will look at when considering just cause in a wrongful dismissal.

1. Misconduct

The courts will try to determine if the dismissal arose as a result of the employee's misconduct and if the misconduct caused the breakdown in the employee-employer relationship. If an employee did in fact violate an important part of his or her contract, or if the employee destroyed the faith of the employer, then it can be said that there was indeed just cause for the termination.

2. Seniority

Courts will consider the standing of the employee in the company. For example, if the employee happens to be someone who has seniority or is quite senior in the company, then the conduct of the employee is considered to be more serious. Normally, a person in such a senior position is not associated with misconduct and are normally the ones who should set the proper examples to others.

3. Was A Warning Given?

Did the employer give a warning to the employee before he or she was fired? The courts will look at this to fully understand the specifics of each situation. If there was no warning before the employee was fired that such misconduct that may result in being fired, then the employer might just find it harder to prove a just cause.

4. Was Misconduct Tolerated?

Courts will look into whether the employee's misconduct was tolerated before being fired. If, in the past, misconduct had indeed occurred and the employer chose to do nothing about it at the time, the employer should have at least given a warning that such misconduct would not be tolerated before firing the employee without any notice.

Courts will look at whether the misconduct can be proven and if it can, was the misconduct sufficient enough to fire the employee with no notice. If it was, then there was just cause. If it cannot be proven, then the employer should give reasonable notice or payment in lieu of the termination notice.

Examples of just cause:

  • Insubordination
  • Dishonesty
  • Absenteeism
  • Sexual Harassment

This is a tricky area for both employers and employees. The best thing to do is hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible to know where you stand.