This is the third in a series of blog posts about just cause terminations. The first blog introduced the concept and the second blog talks about excusing bad behaviour, documenting behaviour and progressive discipline.
In this blog, I’ll be talking about “AFTER ACQUIRED CAUSE”, which means: an employer can justify terminating someone for cause with information that comes to light AFTER they are terminated (even if they were unaware of that information leading up to the termination).
Now, here’s the thing: that bad conduct must have existed BEFORE the employee was terminated. Worth mentioning is that if an employer gives NOTICE to an employee that their employment is coming to an end at a specific date (this is called ‘WORKING NOTICE‘), but then the employer discovers something bad which the employee did and which constitutes grounds for just cause termination, then the employer may terminate the employee IMMEDIATELY.
In the case of Partridge v. Botony Dental Corporation, 2015 ONSC 343, the employer terminated the dental hygienist / office manager (Lee Partridge) for what it claims was just cause. Among other things, the employer claimed that Lee Partridge harassed management and other employees (which was grounds for immediate dismissal). After the termination, the employer says it discovered additional impropriety – namely, that Lee Partridge contact, solicited and procured other hygienists employed by Botony for the purpose of joining her in a new business venture and that she used proprietary and confidential information to her own benefit. The Court did not find enough evidence to substantiate any of Botony’s claims or to substantiate a just cause termination – but that’s a blog for another day…
Bottom line for a dentist employer: irrespective of how you terminate an employee, you should conduct a post-termination investigation to determine if there are grounds that existed prior to the termination which could justify a just cause termination. That’s because an employee who was terminated for something bad (e.g. theft, fraud, insubordination, etc.) may have actually done more bad things during the course of their employment and which was simply never investigated or discovered.
Please note that the information provided herein is not legal advice and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. If you need legal advice please contact our experienced dental lawyers today. We are you dental legal team.