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Verbal Warning of Performance not enough to Justify Termination

In a recently released case from British Columbia, a 55 year old tugboat captain who had been employed for 8 years and 2 months prior to his dismissal sued after his employer dismissed him for cause after giving him repeated, but undocumented, verbal warnings regarding incompetent acts. The Court found that he was wrongfully dismissed and provided him with 10 months’ compensation in lieu of notice, given that his position was an important one requiring specialized training and his management role.

The mistakes made

The employer told his employee verbally and that his work was unsatisfactory or inadequate and threatened dismissal. The employer, however, never gave the employee any timeframe within which to improve. The Court found that to dismiss an employee summarily in such circumstances where the employer believes the employee’s performance is substandard, the employer must provide the employee with clear warnings which specifically informs the employee that his or her job is in jeopardy. Simply warning that an employee’s job is at stake if performance does not improve is not in and of itself sufficient to satisfy the requirement to warn. The Court in this instance found that a warning could only be sufficient as to the requirements in the law if the employer meaningfully assisted the employee to improve (Bomford v Waddon Transportation Systems Inc, 2010).

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