Generally speaking, employers have the right to dismiss employees that fail to report to work sober, and perform their duties in a safe manner, particularly where these requirements have been clearly communicated through written policy.
We are not long into 2019 and yet one thing already seems clear – the law concerning employment contract termination clauses will continue to be the focus of a great deal of litigation in Ontario. In just the past few months alone, new decisions from the Superior Court have helped to advance the law and provide further guidance to employers on proper drafting of termination clauses.
When an employee is fired and not given sufficient notice, a common point of dispute becomes how to properly calculate the lost value of non-monetary benefits. Wages, by contrast, are a relatively simple affair. If a court orders the employee ought to have received an additional three (3) months’ notice, the parties need only calculate the value of three months’ wages and any resulting interest for the delay in payment.
Determining what conduct amounts to just cause for dismissal is no easy task. In part this is due to just cause being inherently situation specific. When describing what may constitute just cause, employment lawyers often refer to extreme examples: think of situations where a public-facing employee makes repeated racial slurs to a customer or commits major fraud in the course of their duties. Typically, such facts will prove fertile ground for successful assertions of just cause for dismissal by an employer.
As we have discussed in previous articles, if you are fired from work and decide to seek severance, you are required to take reasonable steps to find alternate comparable employment. This obligation is referred to as the “duty to mitigate” the loss of your employment.
Wrongful dismissal disputes are fairly common. In our experience they often resolve through negotiation and infrequently progress far into the litigation process. That said, sometimes cases of this nature do reach the court room and the parties usually fight over the quantum of severance sought, the type of payments claimed (i.e. bonus/commissions) and whether the former employee made reasonable efforts to find re-employment.