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Q: What is termination for cause?


Cause for termination means that the employer has a sufficient reason to end the employment contract without giving the employee advanced notice or pay in lieu. This is also known as “just cause”.

Employers generally have an obligation to give notice of termination, but not if there is just cause.

Examples of cause

An employer can terminate for cause when the employee has committed serious misconduct, shown habitual neglect of duty, or is incompetent to discharge their duties (among other reasons). Some common bases for cause allegations are insubordination, dishonesty, absenteeism and lateness, harassment or workplace violence, or persistent substandard job performance. When cause is related to misconduct, the employee’s actions amount to a repudiation of the contract or evince an intention to no longer be bound.

A high bar

The standard for proving cause is high. There are a number of ways that cause allegations can be challenged. For example, an employer may be prevented from relying on cause if the conduct was condoned in the past or was permitted when done by others. Cause allegations may also be unsuccessful if the misconduct or incompetence was related to a disability that required accommodation under human rights legislation.

Employers: Allege cause for just cause, not just because

Employers who allege cause for termination as a tactic to avoid paying severance or gain an advantage in severance negotiations could open themselves up to expanded liability. Courts have sometimes tried to discourage such tactics by awarding punitive or aggravated damages for bad faith conduct, as well as elevated costs awards in the employee’s favour.

Remember: don't take these articles as legal advice! If you have a legal issue, you should consult a lawyer, whether that be us or someone else . The law is riddled with exceptions and nuanced points. These articles only provide tid bits of information for the interested reader. They are by no means exhaustive.


This website does not provide legal advice or opinion and should not be relied on as such advice or opinion. The articles here provide general information only. Tomm Law makes no claims, promises, or guarantees of the accuracy or completeness of the information. Articles are not updated after publication and may become outdated with changes in jurisprudence or legislation. Your use of this site is subject to the Terms and Conditions, which include disclaimers and waivers of liability.