Finding the disciplinary middle ground

Suspensions may be a legitimate option for discipline in non-unionized workplaces
By Chris Foulon
|Canadian Employment Law Today

Suspensions becoming an disciplinary option

Establishing just cause for dismissal can be a daunting prospect for employers. Courts and arbitrators consider the termination of an employee for just cause to be the “capital punishment” of employment law. The employee misconduct at issue must be serious enough to make the continuation of the employment relationship unworkable.

In addition, it is very common for relatively serious acts of employee misconduct to go undocumented. This lack of documentation allows an employee to dispute the alleged misconduct and creates a situation where the employee can say she was not aware the misconduct was of a seriousness that her continued employment was in jeopardy.

In the face of this difficult backdrop, many employers simply choose to terminate the employment relationship without cause and provide an employee with pay in lieu of notice. Understandably, this leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of many employers who might feel they have no other choice in dealing with the problem.

However, there is a middle ground which appears to be gaining increasing support from the courts — disciplinary suspensions.