Call Us Now

Blog

Employers Beware: Asserting Cause for Termination When None Exists May Result in Longer Notice Periods

Posted On: September, 21 2016

In August, Justice Belobaba handed down his decision in Johar v. Best Buy Canada Ltd., 2016 ONSC 5287. [http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2016/2016onsc5287/2016onsc5287.html]. This judgment serves as a stark reminder to employers: if you assert just cause for terminating an employee when no cause exists, you may ultimately end up on the hook for a longer notice period. 

The plaintiff, Raj Johar, had been working as a repair technician in Best Buy’s Distribution Centre for ten years when he was fired “for cause” in December 2014.  The employer claimed just cause for termination on the basis that Johar was purchasing large volumes of cell phones from the company’s auction website, which the employer suspected he was reselling for profit.  Upon investigation, the employer also found that the defendant had placed three ads in a community newspaper that offered in-home electronic repair services. 

Mr. Johar moved for summary judgment on his claim for wrongful dismissal. The facts were set out in two evidentiary affidavits filed by the parties.  The plaintiff cross-examined on the defendant’s affidavit but the defendant chose not to cross-examine the plaintiff.   

Based on this evidence, Justice Belobaba found that the employer failed to establish either a conflict of interest or dishonesty on the evidence before him and, as such, the plaintiff was wrongfully dismissed.  He described firing or terminating an employee for cause as the “capital punishment” of employment law, and ultimately awarded Johar a longer notice period in part because he had been terminated for cause.  Justice Belobaba found that the plaintiff’s age and the fact that he was dismissed or cause and without a letter of reference justified a notice period “at the outer end” of what is reasonable to “reflect the additional challenge of finding replacement employment.”  The plaintiff was awarded 11 months of notice.

This case also serves as a reminder to plaintiff’s counsel that, after the Supreme Court’s decision in Hryniak v. Mauldin [link to previous blog posts about this case], summary judgment or summary adjudication can be a successful way of resolving a wrongful dismissal claim and may be “ a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means to achieve a just result.”

 

No feedback yet

Leave a comment


Your email address will not be revealed on this site.
BadExcellent
(For my next comment on this site)
(Allow users to contact me through a message form -- Your email will not be revealed!)

Contact Us

RECENT NEWS & EVENTS

5 STAR REVIEWS

  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by SB

    I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with the outcome and how very grateful I am for the guidance and support that you and your team provided.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Google user

    Patrick James is really a great lawyer who is smart and great to deal with. He's been our litigation counsel for over 5 years on several different matters. Patrick recently gave our company great strategic advice that resulted in a big commercial litigation win for our company. He's fierce, tenacious, and really cares about getting the best outcome for his clients.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Google user

    Patrick is a very good lawyer. He recently successfully defended a lawsuit against my company and has pursued several litigation claims for us in the past. All claims settled input favour. Mr. James is smart and quickly gives you great strategic advice. Patrick has been a real asset to our business.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Sandra L.

    Andrew Wray and Patrick James recently helped settle a difficult situation for me and my family. The results were exactly what we were hoping for. They are honest, strategic and will provide you with the best advice for you and your financial situation. I highly recommend them to everyone I know.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Mark C.

    Their team is highly focused and incredibly professional - from our experience it would be difficult not to believe that Pinto Wray James are one of Ontario's leading Firms in Labor and Employment law. The mindful client care and complete understanding of the case eased fears and the stress that comes with any legal dispute. Expect to find high level smartly crafted legal solutions at Pinto Wray James LLP - couldn't recommend more.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Sherry C.

    Patrick is knowledgeable, strategic, supportive, and patient. His guidance and advice helped me to maintain focus and to keep things in perspective. His experience and keen perception provides him with an edge that allows him to assess the situation, the people involved, and to offer a strategic resolution that works best for all involved. If you ever require legal advice and assistance, I highly recommend him and his team. They will be there 100% for you.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Christian V.

    Patrick is a fearless advocate for diverse clients. His strategic approach, and his empathy, are what set him apart as a litigator, and champion of the underdog.
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by A Google User

    I have no hesitation recommending Andrew Wray of Pinto Wray James LLP. He provided me with legal advice regarding an employment law issue and his council was practical and honest. Andrew's approach is very much one of blending legal excellence with good common sense. An excellent lawyer!
  • Rating: 5 Lawyer Toronto - 5 Star Reviews
    Pinto Wray James Reviewed by Larry S.

    Patrick listens to his clients and shows compassion, empathy and professionalism. He cares deeply that the individual that has been wrongfully terminated gets the best judgment available to him. I would not hesitate in recommending him to friends or family.
Submit