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Types of Cause for termination in Alberta

If an employer can prove cause when firing an employee, the employer can be relieved of obligations to pay severance or pay in lieu of notice. Cause is fact specific, and depends on the unique context of each employee.

The leading statement on types of cause comes from the case of Port Arthur Shipbuilding v. Arthurs, 1967 Canlii30. The Ontario Court of Appeal said the following.

If an employee has been guilty of misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, incompetence or conduct incompatible with his duties or prejudicial to the employer’s business, or if he has been guilty of willful disobedience to the employer’s orders in a matter of substance, the law recognizes the employer’s right to summarily dismiss the delinquent employee.

The Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench had a good discussion of the dangers of evidence brought forward by employers in these situations in the case of Boyes v. Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, 1982 CanLII 2639 (SK QB):

[16] It is not uncommon in a wrongful dismissal trial for the employer to dredge up every incident arising during the term of employment which might tend to show the employee in an unfavourable light, and the court must be diligent to distinguish between those incidents which comprise the grounds for the dismissal and those advanced for the sole purpose of discrediting the employee.

If you have been terminated and your employer has alleged cause, 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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