Giving a reason for dismissal

How important is giving a reason?
By Tim Mitchell
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 03/07/2012

Question: If an employer dismisses an employee without cause but provides sufficient pay in lieu of notice, how important is the letter of termination outlining the reason for dismissal? What if the employee disagrees with the reason or thinks it’s unfair?

Answer: The termination letter is still important. It is a seminal record in the event of a termination being challenged. It will be scrutinized and any defects could be costly.

Most common law jurisdictions require written notice of termination of employment. To the extent possible in the circumstances, it should be short and unassailable. To start, an obvious question is: Why include reasons in a without-cause termination letter at all? Except in jurisdictions where more is required, this situation calls for general reasons, at most. The employer could state that the company is moving in a different direction or briefly state any genuine business reasons, such as if the position is being eliminated. The inclusion of more details is an invitation for the employee to disagree or raise concerns regarding fairness.