Despite their position as role models and custodians of the law,
what is exhibited? Sex in cruisers, lying under oath, assault,
drunk driving while on duty; a mere sampling of officer misdeeds
now subject to investigation and internal disciplinary
Most cases resulted in a reprimand of some kind and the loss of
days' pay. One constable was docked four days' pay for
"improper use of a police vehicle to engage in consensual
sexual acts with a fellow RCMP member."
But this coddled disciplinary approach by the RCMP, like their
civil service fellows, bears scant resemblance to the rest of us.
Misconduct, including assault and drinking while driving for work,
represent serious misconduct — a single instance of which
might be sufficient to justify termination for cause.
Contrary to the RCMP's approach, there has been a marked
shift in how private employers deal with transgressing employees.
In the last year, more employers and employees than ever before
have retained my firm to represent them as the result of a
termination for cause based on one single incident of misconduct.
While terminations for cause following a single act are rare, they
exist and the ramifications for even exonerated employees are
Phillip Kelly worked as a materials manager for Linamar Corp.
for 14 years. He was a well-respected and trusted employee with a
spotless employment record. Shockingly, he was arrested and charged
with possession of child pornography in his 14th year of
employment. Linamar terminated him for cause based on this single
mark on Kelly's otherwise pristine record. This despite his
activities were conducted from the privacy of his own home.
The court upheld Kelly's termination for cause and found
that Linamar was justified in taking steps to protect its
reputation. Kelly's crime of moral turpitude was so heinous it
was clear to the court his termination for cause was on-side.
The RCMP's "slap on the wrist" approach to
discipline ironically flies in the face of how the courts are
treating criminal and quasi-criminal employee conduct.
Discipline must be proportionate. Less serious offences will not
lead a court to impose the capital punishment of discharge for
When an employee is terminated for cause, they have no reference
letter to rely on, no history to serve as a credit on their ledger.
They will not even be able to obtain Employment Insurance benefits
to tide them over until a new job can be found. As terminations for
cause create serious consequences for the affected employee —
they are reserved for serious circumstances of misconduct, such as
breaches of trust and criminal activity.
Some tips for employers to consider when terminating an employee
for cause include:
Ensure the punishment fits the crime Employers
must take measured action when disciplining. If the misconduct is
minor (e.g. tardiness), written or verbal warnings suffice. If the
minor misconduct continues or becomes more serious, elevated levels
of discipline, such as a suspension, may be warranted. Terminating
for cause in bad faith can lead to additional Honda or punitive
Document misdeeds Maintain a personnel file for
all employees and record all warnings (including verbal warnings
and meetings) related to misconduct that you can rely on later.
Keep copies of all disciplinary emails and written warnings on
record. Never expunge them. Obviously, as they become dated, they
are less significant — but you must always retain a record
that the misconduct occurred and what consequences flowed from
Warn employees of the consequences of continued
misconduct When issuing a warning email or letter, be sure
to include a warning as to what the employee can expect will happen
if the offending conduct continues such as, "Continued
misconduct may (or if more serious, will) result in the termination
of your employment, for cause."
Employees must be wary of how misconduct may impact their
continued employment. Unlike our legal custodians, the RCMP, one
bad deed may indeed be enough to end your career.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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