Terminated with Cause. Are You Sure?

Job hunting is hard enough without going into the job interview with a ‘terminated with cause’ instead of a reference from your last employer. But as many people are learning, both managers and companies have skewed definitions of what ‘with cause’ actually is, and what the laws are.

April 2018\the Ontario Superior Court, Bergeron v. Movati Athletic (Group) Inc. –  the Court nullified a termination clause designed to limit entitlements on termination to the minimums under the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). The court overturned a decision where a court nullified a termination clause that limited entitlements. A problem that could have been avoided by adding the word ‘only’ to the clause.

The courts are overturning terminations continually. This doesn’t mean you need to find a lawyer to fight a case, because the case may have already been fought in Canadian courts.

Why Contest Termination With Cause?

If the termination grounds were not legal, then you were terminated without cause. This makes a serious difference when you are job hunting, or in a job interview.

In Canada termination with cause can eliminate your right to a severance package, and unemployment insurance.

First, in most cases, termination with cause is difficult to prove.

The Ontario Court of Appeal. An employer many terminate an employment for cause if they prove “guilty of serious misconduct, habitual neglect of duty, incompetence, or conduct incompatible with his duties, or prejudicial to the employer’s business, or if he has been guilty of willful disobedience to the employer’s orders in a matter of substance.”

Many employees have quietly left employment without understanding the impact of the word ‘wilful.’ Mangers may unwittingly end up in legal difficulties by not taking that single word into account when letting employees go.  It is a very powerful word that means, there must be proof of ‘intent’ and even ‘intent to harm.’ The employer bears the evidentiary burden of proof.

If a manger is let go for misconduct, there must be evidence that the misconduct was serious enough to disrupt the employment relationship to the point where it can no longer continue.

In most cases, Termination with cause, is misused on a daily basis.

Job Hunting

There are ways to address the problem when job hunting. First, contact a lawyer. Is your case ambiguous, wrongful, or done in malice? If so, you have a solid footing to go into your next job interview with less trepidation than you have now. Because, if the burden of the law is not met, then you were not legally terminated without cause.

Instead of looking bad, you can show that you are not a malicious person by stating that you are aware the last company was ‘in the wrong’, but you chose to seek a new job instead of going to court.  The reason can be stated as financial as a lengthy court case can cost more than the severance lost.

If you do hire a lawyer and settle ‘out of court’, this can also be seen as a positive. It vindicates you, but it also shows that you were willing to negotiate.

Job Interview

When in a job interview always address the problem up front. Have your facts memorized. You have one chance, and one chance only, to win the job interviewer over to your side. Appearing organized, relaxed, and confident is the best way to convince the job interviewer that you are a good hire.

 

 

 

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About the Author: Danny White