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Fired in Alberta: What is Cause?

Sometimes when an employer terminates the an employee, the employer alleges cause. The employer is basically saying with this that the employee has done something so fundamental to the relationship between the employer and employee that they can end the contract of employment without having to pay severance. This article is a about indefinite contracts of employment and not cases where cause is specifically set out in the contract.

Progressive Discipline

The law allows employers to terminate employers who make mistakes generally after there has been a number of instances of discipline (sometimes call "progressive discipline"). This has to occur over a period of time for it to be effective.

Cause is Difficult to Prove

The Courts have said that proving cause is a difficult thing to do.

In the case Merrill Lynch Canada Inc v Soost the Alberta Court of Appeal said:

“regarding the issue of cause in few cases can any solicitor advise an employer that it has ironclad grounds for dismissing a certain employee without notice.”

If your employer is alleging cause and trying to avoid paying you severance, they may be in the wrong, and you might need to speak with a lawyer.

The information contained in this article is not legal advice. No solicitor client relationship is formed through this article. The reader is encouraged to retain counsel for advice in these matters.

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