Just Cause for Dismissal

STACEY REGINALD BALL

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STACEY REGINALD BALL

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In Ontario, there are generally two situations where an employer will terminate a non-unionized employee

EMPLOYMENT LAW

Examples of Wrongful Dismissal

The first is when the employer has a legitimate reason to dismiss an employee for “just cause”. The second is when an employer terminates an employee without cause, for a variety of reasons, as long as they are not discriminatory or in bad faith (Please see the article titled “Discrimination” for more information). In the first case, when an employer dismisses an employee for “just cause”, the employer must have a legitimate reason for the termination, as the employee will not receive any termination or severance pay. Canadian employment law requires a very high standard to dismiss an employee for just cause. Generally, there must be serious misconduct by the employee (such as theft, violence, fraud, etc.) to warrant receiving no termination or severance pay.

The employer will normally have to prove “gross misconduct”, and the courts have noted that dismissal for “just cause” is the capital punishment of employment law. See Johar v. Best Buy Canada Ltd. 2016 ONSC 5287. The courts now require a contextual approach to fire an employee for just cause, and there is a requirement of proportionality. See McKinley v BC Tel, 2001 SCC 38 and Dowling v Ontario (Workplace Safety & Insurance Board) (2004), 37 CCEL (3d) 182 (Ont. C.A.). If an employer cannot show the court that dismissal was proportionate given the employee’s position, length of service and the circumstances of the case, then they may need to pay damages and legal fees. In the second case, when an employer dismisses an employee without “just cause”, they are required to provide termination notice or pay in lieu of notice to the terminated employee.

​The Employee’s Reasonable Notice Period

The Ontario Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum entitlements that an employer must pay to a terminated employee. Employers may include a termination clause in an employment contract, which seeks to limit the amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice that an employee will receive. However, in the absence of an enforceable termination provision the employee’s reasonable notice period is determined in accordance with the common law. Employees should note that common law reasonable notice can be much greater than the minimums contained in the Employment Standards Act.

An employee who was terminated without cause may be able to claim wrongful dismissal in several situations. Common examples of this include:

  • An employer terminates employment without cause, but refuses to pay the employee the appropriate compensation or reasonable notice
  • An employer terminates employment and improperly claims there is “just cause”, thus refusing to pay any compensation or reasonable notice
  • An employer fundamentally alters the terms or conditions of employment, which results in the “constructive dismissal” of the employee (please see the article titled “Constructive Dismissal”)
  • Please note that the above information does not constitute legal advice. It is general information about the law. If you are need of legal advice, such as a recently terminated employee or an employer looking to draft an enforceable termination provision, please contact the experts at Ball Professional Corporation.

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    CLIENT REVIEWS

    Google Reviews

    Steven Wang
    Steven Wang
    19:58 18 Mar 19
    Stacey was the third lawyer that I had hired to represent me, after the previous two didn't achieve anything for me. Stacey is very different. He is not only the author of Canadian Employment Law with profound knowledge and experience, he is also the most efficient one, direct to the point. He is the toughest one, well known by HR people, and he takes care of his client all by himself. There is no junior lawyers under him. That's the big difference comparing with other big employment law firms on Google, where I could only meet with a young lawyer with little experience. After he spoke with me for 45 minutes, he found the best way to break through. He didn't need to ask for a lot of document and he didn't bill hours to review them. His fee structure is aligned with his client's best interest. My problem was solved very quickly with a great result, and I only have to meet with him twice and exchange some emails. He's not just a tough fighter and negotiator, he got great strategy to make a deal. He answered my emails during the holidays. He comes in the office very early, and we had a conference call at 7am in the morning when we need to make a quick decision. To me, he is the best employment lawyer, a patient teacher and a friend. I strongly recommend him to those who need help.
    Aiden Nix
    Aiden Nix
    01:13 06 Apr 19
    Stacey was super helpful and increased my settlement a significant amount. He is very busy so you have to chase him down a bit but that is minor issue compared to all of the positives. Overall if you need a good labour lawyer then talk to him right away. He is THE lawyer to go to in Ontario!Thanks Stacey!
    Sergei R
    Sergei R
    05:01 06 Dec 18
    My experience with Stacey R. Ball was very positive. His fees are reasonable and value I received for the money was outstanding. Luckily, after his advice my situation was resolved almost amicably. You will not believe how reasonable some people can become after they start suspecting you have a good lawyer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you suspect you might need a lawyer in the future because of some developing situation at work, I highly recommend you wait no more and talk to Stacey.
    Danny T
    Danny T
    18:34 26 Feb 19
    Stacey has recently represented me. He’s patient, but to the point which I can appreciate. No fluff. He worked quickly and even responded during his holidays. Definitely highly recommended.
    Alexa Arsenault
    Alexa Arsenault
    19:36 01 Nov 18
    If I could give Stacey Ball 30 stars I would! Stacey was right on the “ball” when it came to my legal matter. I called his office and his efficient staff scheduled me for an appointment the next day. He’s a great listener and comes to the point quickly, confidently, and succinctly. He explained best and worst case scenarios and dealt with my matter without delay. He was successful in concluding my legal matter to my satisfaction and met all my expectations. I highly recommend Stacey for all your legal matters.Alexa
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