Employee Conduct That Will Not Justify A Termination for Cause

The following are examples of situations that will not justify a decision to terminate an employee from his or her employment for just cause:

  • lack of work; 
  • the poor financial performance of the company; 
  • a corporate restructuring; 
  • the employee refuses to work because of a good faith concern about safety.  Indeed, disciplining an employee for refusing to work in an unsafe work environment is in breach of s. 50 the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act2;
  • employee acts or omissions that are caused, at least in part, by a ground protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code3 such as the employee’s disability, religion or gender; 
  • the employer learns that the employee is actively seeking new employment or the employee informs the employer that he or she intends to look for a new job; 
  • the employee’s off-duty conduct that is unrelated to his or her employment obligations (discussed in detail above); 
  • the employee seeks legal advice from an employment lawyer about a dispute with his or her employer; 
  • the employee swears an affidavit or testifies truthfully as a witness at a trial for a litigant adverse in interest against his or her employer (see Zesta Engineering Ltd. v. Cloutier4); and 
  • a personality conflict with another employee or manager that does not involve an act of insubordination.
 
  1. Employment Standards Act, 2000, SO 2000, c 41;
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Act, RSO 1990, c O.1;
  3. Human Rights Code, RSO 1990, c H.19;
  4. Zesta Engineering Ltd. v. Cloutier, 2010 ONSC 5810 at para. 326;