Progressing towards just cause

A system of progressive discipline that gives ample warning to the employee is usually necessary before firing for cause
By Natalie C. MacDonald
|Canadian Employment Law Today

A balanced approach to discipline

Many employers don’t want to have to deal with a troublesome employee but, usually, simply firing the employee is not an option. Termination is considered “capital punishment” in the employment world, so an employer must prove an employee’s misconduct warrants the most serious form of punishment.

In most cases, termination can only be justified if the employee has been made aware his job is in jeopardy and has been given an opportunity to improve. Therefore, a system of progressive discipline is the best option for employers in dealing with employee misconduct.

Even with progressive discipline implemented, there are other considerations. Employment lawyer Natalie MacDonald takes a look at how employers can strike a balance between an employee’s misconduct and the level of discipline imposed.

In the employment world, being terminated for cause is like being charged with murder — it is the most serious allegation an employer can make. The very phrase, “for cause,” means unequivocally there is a reason underlying the discharge. For an employer making this allegation, it is critical there is proof behind these words.