Terminated for Cause – Condonation

If you’ve found yourself terminated for cause for something your employer said you did several weeks, or even months, ago that wasn’t brought to your attention until your termination, you may be able to bring a case for wrongful dismissal.

February 15, 2019


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If you’ve found yourself terminated for cause for something your employer said you did several weeks, or even months, ago that wasn’t brought to your attention until your termination, you may be able to bring a case for wrongful dismissal.

When an employer fails to act within a sufficiently quick time frame from the date of an apparent infraction by an employee, the employer may be seen as condoning the behaviour of the employee and would then not be able to rely on that incident to dismiss the employee for cause. This is also true for a situation wherein an employee commits an infraction and is not formerly reprimanded for the infraction and then, much later commits the same or a similar infraction and is then terminated. The employee can argue that in the past, the employer allowed the behaviour and cannot therefore rely on it to terminate them now if they chose not to in the past.

In the case of Keighan v. Kool-Fire Ltd., 1984 CarswellOnt 770, the Plaintiff, a VP and Secretary Treasurer, sent a memo to the president questioning his competence and alleging illegal conduct. The Plaintiff sent the same memo to the company’s lawyer and accountant. The president asked for the Plaintiff to resign and when the Plaintiff refused, he allowed the Plaintiff to continue working. Three months later, the president finally made the decision to terminate the Plaintiff for cause. The court found that the company could not terminate the Plaintiff for cause as it allowed the Plaintiff to continue to work for three months after the incident occurred.

Condonation can also occur when an employee acts in a manner that is consistent with the behaviour of others in the workplace that is contrary to policy and no disciplinary action is taken to correct the behaviour. An employee can argue that this behaviour is done by other employees and so the employee was led to believe that it was acceptable despite the policies in place.

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