more than 40 years of legal experience
302, 15252 – 32nd Avenue | Surrey, British Columbia V3Z 0R7

Just Cause Dismissal Lawyer

In Surrey and Metro Vancouver, the Law Firm of Robert Doran offers sound legal guidance.

Evaluating Just Cause for Dismissal: Key Considerations

An employer in British Columbia doesn’t require cause to dismiss an employee, but certain rules must be followed. When employers fire for cause, the level of employee misconduct must be severe, and inadequate proof can lead to legal action.


In Canada, employment can be terminated for just cause or for no cause at all, but when the matter is categorized as just cause for dismissal, there are certain circumstances that must be met. Just cause refers to serious employee misconduct that interferes with the employment contract to the degree that it can’t be repaired. If you believe you can claim wrongful dismissal, don’t wait to consult with an experienced Surrey just cause dismissal lawyer.

The Fundamentals of Just Cause Dismissal in Employment Law

A just cause dismissal refers to termination without notice or pay that is in lieu of notice, and the burden of proof in such cases rests with the employer. As such, the employer is tasked with showing on a balance of probabilities that the employee fundamentally breached the employment contract or engaged in some form of misconduct that damaged the employment relationship beyond repair.

Legal Justifications for Termination and Employer Compliance

The kinds of employee actions that Canadian courts find rise to the level of just cause termination include the following:


  • Theft
  • Assault, sexual assault, or any other criminal act
  • Insubordination
  • Transgressing company policy
  • Incompetence

Delving into Employee Misconduct and Its Consequences

Criminal acts are generally easier to prove than insubordination or incompetence, which generally require more than one instance and must be documented in the employee’s file. An employee who acts in a manner that their employer considers unacceptable doesn’t necessarily translate to just cause for dismissal.


When an employer fails to meet their burden of proof with ample evidence and documentation, the just cause dismissal can amount to a wrongful dismissal. If, on the other hand, your employer can prove that misconduct is at the very root of your dismissal, you can be let go without warning or severance pay.

Exploring the Role of Employment Lawyers in Just Cause Cases

A 2023 ruling by the British Columbia Supreme Court highlights that proving just cause is critical to legal success in wrongful employment cases. Without adequate proof, the allegation of just cause can be ruled fabricated. In this case, the employer’s allegations against the employee are deemed entirely unsupported by evidence or lacking in merit, and in the process, the employer’s duty of good faith and fair dealings in relation to the employee was breached.

If you’ve been terminated for what your employer is calling just cause, you may have a wrongful termination case, and a trusted employment lawyer can play a critical role in your case’s outcome. Your dedicated lawyer will focus on any discrepancies in your employer’s evidence and documentation – or on your employer’s overall lack of evidence and documentation.

It’s important to note that the bar is high when it comes to just cause dismissals. Fortunately, your just cause dismissal lawyer has the experience and legal insight to skillfully protect your rights in response to any inappropriate conduct on the part of your employer.

Navigating Employment Contracts: Rights and Obligations

Your employment contract – or employment agreement – is a legally binding contract, which outlines the terms and conditions that apply to your job, including the following matters:


  • Your responsibilities on the job
  • Your compensation
  • Your benefits

This legal agreement ensures that you and your employer are both well aware of your rights and obligations. This contract can also cover issues such as severance pay, temporary layoffs, and substantial changes to the job, pay, or work hours.


Employment contracts often include clauses that fall into the following categories:


  • Termination clauses
  • Noncompete and non-solicit clauses
  • Layoff clauses
  • Probation clauses
  • Privacy clauses
  • Confidentiality clauses
  • Obsolescence clauses
  • Resignation notice clauses
  • Ability to work clauses

A written employment contract is not required by law. While an implied or verbal contract can take its place, it can be much more difficult to establish, prove, and enforce. The most important point to keep in mind, however, is that – as an employee – you have important rights and legal protections – including those addressed by the Employment Standards Act – and a focused just cause dismissal lawyer can help.

Unpacking the Legalities of Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal generally relates to the employer’s failure to provide adequate warning of termination – or an adequate severance package in lieu of adequate notice. Wrongful dismissal typically takes one of three forms.

Termination without Cause

While employment law allows employers to terminate employees without cause, they must provide adequate notice, adequate severance pay, or a combination of the two. Employers can generally fire for any reason other than one that violates their human rights – as long as they are appropriately compensated.

Improper Termination for Cause

As discussed, employees can be dismissed for cause without severance pay, but the employer must have a solid, well-documented reason for doing so. In this scenario, the employee’s conduct must rise to the level of serious misconduct.

The Intricacies of Constructive Dismissal and Employee Rights

Another form of wrongful dismissal happens when an employer changes a fundamental condition or aspect of the employee’s job description to a degree that renders the workplace unbearable for them. This is a form of constructive dismissal – or of forcing the employee out without actually firing them. Another example is temporarily laying the employee off with a complete reduction in hours.

The Dynamics of Employer-Employee Relationships

When employers bring on new employees, they create new relationships that develop over time, and managing these relationships plays a critical role in the business’s overall success. Strong employer/employee relationships promote increased productivity and a healthier work environment that supports employee satisfaction.


The dynamics of these primary work relationships hinge on factors like the following:


  • Relationships that are built on mutual respect
  • Relationships that incorporate mutual reliance
  • Relationships that grow, develop, and flourish over time
  • Relationships that include healthy, well-established boundaries

Severance Packages and Termination Pay: Employer's Responsibility

Employers have a significant responsibility to their employees, and this includes mandatory severance pay, which is often called a severance package or termination pay, in all the following circumstances:


  • Your employment is terminated unilaterally by your employer without cause.
  • Your employment is terminated without an adequate working notice period.

Even if you provide your employer with notice of your departure from the job, letting you go prior to the notice period’s end requires severance pay for the remaining time.

Defining Serious Employee Misconduct and Its Implications

in order for an employer to fire an employee for cause, their misconduct must be so serious that it breaches the employment contract to the degree that firing them without warning or severance pay is allowed by the law. When it comes to determining that an employee’s misconduct reaches this level, the matter must be considered in the context of the employer/employee relationship.


If the employee’s misconduct is so egregious that it leads to the breakdown of the employment relationship, the employer has just cause. As mentioned, however, this is a high bar, and simple proof of misconduct on the employee’s part is unlikely to suffice.

Termination Notices: Legal Requirements and Employer Duties

When an employer terminates employment, they’re required to provide termination notice that affords reasonable warning in the form of written notice. If termination is immediate. severance pay – or pay in lieu of notice – is required. The employer can also strike a balance with a combination of the two.


The basics regarding termination notice include the following:


  • For 3 months of continual employment, 1 week of notice is required.
  • For 12 months of continual employment, 2 weeks of notice is required.
  • For three years of continual employment, an additional week of notice is required for each additional year – up to a maximum of eight weeks.

Procedures to Claim for Wrongful Dismissal

The most important step anyone who believes they’ve been wrongfully dismissed can take is reaching out for the skilled legal counsel of a practiced employment lawyer early in the process. Some additional steps you can take to protect your rights and bolster your claim include:


  • Refrain from signing anything your employer asks you to sign upon termination
  • Document what transpired in the termination meeting – with as much detail as possible
  • Compile all the documentation relevant to your employment, including your employment agreement, performance reviews, pay statements, relevant emails between you and your direct boss or supervisor, and any papers associated with your termination

Collective Agreements and Employment Law: A Critical Analysis

A collective agreement refers to an agreement that’s included in the employment contract, and the basics in relation to termination notices include the following requirements:


  • For 3 months of continual employment, the employer must provide notice of one week.
  • For 12 months of continual employment, 2 weeks of notice is required.
  • For three years of continual employment, an additional week of notice is required for each additional year – up to a maximum of eight weeks.

Legal Remedies and Actions in Cases of Employment Termination

In cases of wrongful termination, you can seek compensation for your losses – in terms of severance pay for the termination notice you were owed. Working closely with an accomplished employment lawyer is always advised.

An Experienced Employment Lawyer Can Help

Robert Doran at Doran Law in Surrey is a seasoned just cause dismissal lawyer who appreciates the gravity of wrongful dismissals and is well prepared to advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution skillfully. Learn more about what we can do to help you by contacting or calling us at 604-542-9455 today.


I’ve been fired without cause and my employer is putting together a severance package for my review. How long must I wait for compensation?

Negotiating a fair severance package can take a considerable amount of time and shouldn’t be rushed. Consult with a dedicated employment lawyer today.


As a full-time employee, how long should my lunch break be?

As a full-time employee, you are entitled to a 30-minute lunch break in your 8-hour shift. If you work overtime on a given day, you may be entitled to two meal breaks.


Is there a minimum legal age for hiring an employee?

To hire someone who is under the age of 16, special restrictions must be adhered to, including:


  • The child must work under the supervision of someone who is at least 19 years old.
  • Generally, the employer must obtain written permission from a parent or guardian.
  • The employer must ensure that the work involved isn’t categorised as hazardous.

How much does an employment lawyer cost in Ontario?

Most reputable employment lawyers in Canada, work on contingency, which means you won’t owe anything unless your claim is successful. At that point, you’ll pay a predetermined percentage of your settlement.


What is a pocket employment lawyer?

The term pocket employment lawyer refers to your ability to get a feel for your employment-based legal concern on your phone or device prior to calling a legal firm. At Doran Law, our contact form invites you to share the details of your claim, which allows us to provide you with more detailed guidance upfront.


What is the jurisdiction of employment law in Canada?

Generally, provinces have jurisdiction over most employment and labour law cases in Canada. In extraordinary cases, however, the federal government presides.


How much does an employment lawyer cost BC?

Reputable employment lawyers throughout BC typically work on a contingency basis, which means they get a predetermined percentage of the settlement or court award – if the case is successful.


What governs employment law in Canada?

In Canada, employment law is governed by the following:


An Experienced BC Lawyer Can Help 

Robert Doran is an esteemed labour lawyer at  Doran Law who has decades of experience guiding difficult employment-based cases like yours toward favourable resolutions, and he’s here for you, too. To learn more about what we can do to help you, please don’t put off contacting or calling us at 604-542-9455 today.

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Surrey Office
302, 15252 – 32nd Avenue Surrey, British Columbia V3Z 0R7
Phone: 604-542-9455
Fax: 604-542-9493

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