Just cause termination still not clearcut (Legal view)

Employee reaction often deciding factor
By Stuart Rudner
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/17/2009

The questions regarding what will, and will not, constitute just cause for dismissal seem to be never-ending. This is not particularly surprising, given that courts have made it clear any allegation of just cause must be considered using a contextual approach, which looks at not only the alleged behaviour but the entirety of the employment relationship.

Typically, parties will look at the incident or behaviour in question and the relationship prior to the alleged incidents, including the length of service, any disciplinary history and the employee’s contributions to the organization. However, in many cases, the deciding factor seems to be how the individual reacts when the allegation is put to him.

While intended to ensure a sense of fairness and proportionality, the contextual approach has the effect of making just cause a perpetually grey area, without hard and fast rules employers can rely upon to assess particular situations.