Just Cause - Dishonesty, Breach Of Contract, Good Faith

Author:Mr Earl Phillips
Profession:McCarthy Tétrault LLP

It is always difficult for an employer to prove just cause.  In an earlier post, we discussed performance based just cause.  This post looks at a recent case from British Columbia that found just cause based on dishonesty, breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith.

Ernst was hired as a senior executive by a Vancouver based company to market a system for the secure distribution of recorded music over the internet.  At the time, he was living in Alberta.  He negotiated a written employment contract that said he would initially work from his home in Alberta, that if he was required to move to Vancouver the employer would pay the reasonable expenses of the move, and that his salary would be increased annually by not less than the cost of living increase in his province of residence.

Without telling his employer, and with a little deception along the way, Ernst moved to Mexico.  He eventually told the employer he was working from home in Mexico and the employer expressed its displeasure.  Ernst failed to respond to the employer's request to make a proposal on how he would deal with several concerns raised by the employer.  The employer did not take immediate action because Ernst was working on a major contract with Warner.  Three and a half months later, Ernst was dismissed for just cause.

The court found in favour of the employer.  It held that...

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