Under the Circumstances, the Employee Cannot Claim He Did Not Receive Written Notice

The New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board had to decide whether or not the employee received the written notification that he had been dismissed for cause, as required under the Employment Standards Act, and whether the employee is entitled to the statutory notice.

What happened?

The employee worked for the employer as a meat cutter for more than five years.

One day, the employer called the employee back into the office to fire him. The employer handed the employee a copy of the termination letter that contained written reasons for the employee’s dismissal. However, the employee stormed out without taking his copy of the letter with him. The employer did not mail or email a copy of the termination to the employee. Also, the Record of Employment (ROE) indicated the employee was dismissed, but no reason was provided on the ROE.

The Employee filed an online complaint with Employment Standards claiming the employer violated sec. 30(2) of the Employment Standards Act by not providing him with the required written notice of termination.

Subsection 30(2) of the Employment Standards Act stipulates that “Where an employer dismisses an employee for cause he shall do so in writing, setting out the reasons for such action, and, subject to section 31, unless this section is complied with, no dismissal without notice is valid notwithstanding the cause for such actions exists.”

The Director of Employment Standards agreed with the employee that he was not given reasons in writing for his dismissal.

The employer asked that the case be referred to the Labour and Employment Board for review, claiming that the employee was provided with reasons in writing at the time of his dismissal.

Finding of the Labour and Employment Board

During the hearing, the employee stated that he was handed a folded letter, but refused it by throwing it on the floor. He further stated that the dismissal letter was never read to him. He nonetheless acknowledged he knew he had been dismissed and he even knew the reason for his dismissal, making reference to an altercation with a customer that occurred in the parking lot prior to his dismissal.

The Board found that the employer did provide the required notice by preparing a detailed letter setting out the causes of termination and personally delivering it. The Board found that whether or not the letter was folded had little to no consequence in this matter. The employee would have also received the notice verbally had he not walked out while the manager was reading him the letter.

The Board found that the actions of the employer were sufficient, reasonable and practical under the circumstances and to rule otherwise would be to impose a further obligation on the employer.

Lessons learned

It is implicit under the New Brunswick Employment Standards Act that when an employer dismisses an employee, it has to provide notice in writing within the time frame set out in the law, which is dependent on the length of employment of the employee.

Where an employer dismisses an employee for cause, a letter of termination that set out the reasons for the termination must be provided to the employee.

Termination cannot just be done verbally.

It is important that employers be diligent and ensure that the termination process follows the requirements of the law.

When an employer realizes that the employee does not have the written dismissal letter, it must use other means to ensure its delivery.

There are no exemptions or excuses in the application of this section of the law. All employers must provide notice of termination with or without cause in writing. And when cause is involved, to add the reasons for the termination.

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