Is an employer justified in dismissing an employee for cause?

Ontario, Canada

The following excerpt is from Render v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator (Canada) Limited, 2019 ONSC 7460 (CanLII):

Whether the employer is justified in dismissing an employee for cause requires an assessment of the context of the alleged misconduct to determine whether the misconduct violates an essential condition of the employment contract, breaches the faith inherent in the work relationship or is fundamentally inconsistent with the employee’s obligations to his employer: McKinley v. BC Tel, 2001 SCC 38, [2001] 2 S.C.R. 161, at para. 48.

Underlying the contextual analysis is the principle of proportionality. An effective balance must be struck between the severity of an employee’s misconduct and the sanction imposed: McKinley v. BC Tel, at para. 53.

The contextual analysis has been described as follows: Cause is determined by an objective contextual and proportional analysis. A finding of misconduct does not, by itself, give rise to just cause; the question is whether, in the circumstances, the behaviour is such that the employment relationship could no longer viably subsist. There must be a balance struck between the severity of an employee’s misconduct and the sanction imposed. The factors considered include the employee’s tenure, employment record and the seriousness of the misconduct: Foerderer v. Nova Chemicals Corporation, 2007 ABQB 349, 81 Alta. L.R. (4th) 105, at para. 151.

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