Secret recordings of coworkers provide cause for termination

In Shalagin v Mercer Celgar Limited Partnership, 2022 BCSC 112 the court considered an allegation of cause that arose after termination. Specifically, the terminated employee was a Certified Professional Accountant employed by the defendant for 10 years.   

The employee was terminated on a without cause basis and provided payment based on the Employment Standards Act requirements. The employee then made a complaint to the Employment Standards Branch, a complaint to the BC Human Rights Tribunal, and started a wrongful dismissal action in the BC Supreme Court.

In the course of the litigation matters, the employee disclosed many secret recordings of conversations with his coworkers. These recordings demonstrated a fundamental breach of trust and privacy in the workplace. Such conduct was inconsistent with his ethical obligations as a professional employee. This conduct was sufficient to support a with cause termination even though it was discovered after the termination took place. 

The employee’s wrongful dismissal action was dismissed because the employer had cause for termination. 

This case provides a good example of the importance of privacy in the workplace. A breach of privacy can constitute cause for termination in some circumstances.

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