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How Does Cause Work in Alberta?

In most cases that an employer terminates an employee in Alberta, it is done without cause, and depending on the contract, pay in lieu of notice must be paid. However, in certain cases, employers can allege cause and avoid paying severance and pay in lieu of notice. A recent court of Queen's Bench decision looked at what an Alberta court looks for with cause Haack v Secure Energy (Drilling Services) Inc, 2021 ABQB 82. The Court said at paragraph 126:


{126} In assessing an employer’s claim that it had cause to fire an employee, the Court must consider three things:

(i) The nature and extent of the employee’s conduct;

(ii) The surrounding circumstances of the employee (e.g., seniority, job description, obligations and responsibilities) and of the employer (e.g., the nature of the business, its policies and practices);

(iii) Whether the employer’s response was proportionate and, in particular, “whether the alleged misconduct is so incompatible with the fundamental terms of the employment relationship that it warrants dismissal”

See: Molloy v Epcor Utilities Inc., 2015 ABQB 356 at para 142; Smith v Vauxhall Co-op Petroleum Limited, 2017 ABQB 525 at para 15; Cicalese v Saipem Canada Inc., 2018 ABQB 835 at para 20; Motta v Davis Wire Industries Ltd., 2019 ABQB 899 at para 15.


In any trial concerning cause, the courts will weigh the allegations set forth by the Employer, together with the evidence presented to show cause. These analyses are very fact specific.


If your employer has alleged cause against you, please feel free to contact us.

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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