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Can my employer really fire me with cause based on performance management?

Just cause is known as the ‘capital punishment’ of employment law, and with good reason. These are situations where employees have done something so blatant, and so unspeakable that an employer can let them go immediately, without any prior warning or without paying any severance.

Or so employers believe. The reality is that ‘just cause’ only applies in very rare circumstances, and the law states that only employees who have committed “wilful misconduct, disobedience or wilful neglect of duty” lose their entitlement to even their minimum termination payments entitled by law, let alone whatever entitlements may exist in their employment contract. In fact, employers who make allegations of just cause without sufficient proof not only will often lose their argument in court, but are often ordered to pay damages to their former employee for ending the relationship in bad faith.

This is also true when it comes to performance management. Employers may enter into performance management thinking that they have the option to terminate with cause if they do not see improvement, but they often fail to realize just how much paperwork is required to make that termination effective. They would need to properly document every misstep, every warning, and every act of progressive discipline in order to do things correctly. They will also have to establish that the performance expectations were clearly communicated and reasonable. For example, if the expectation is that you make 20 widgets per hour, but the evidence establishes that the company average is 10, firing you for cause for “only” averaging 10 would not be justifiable.

If you have been terminated with cause after a performance management plan, contact us right away and we can help do a deep dive to see if the employer is in the wrong. 

Employment Lawyers - Rudner Law
Alternative Dispute Resolution Rudner Law

Rudner Law
15 Allstate Parkway
Suite 600
Markham, ON
L3R 5B4

Phone: 416-864-8500
Text: 416-864-8500


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