In Alberta, Canada, an employer can terminate an employee for cause if the employee has committed a serious misconduct. The “for cause” termination is also referred to as “summary dismissal”, which means an employer can terminate an employee without notice or pay in lieu of notice. According to the Alberta Employment Standards, serious misconduct could include theft, dishonesty, conflict of interest, damage to employer’s property, insubordination, violence or harassment, absenteeism, tardiness, etc.

However, what constitutes serious misconduct can be subjective and depends on the circumstances. In many cases, it should be something severe and fundamental that it breaches the fundamental terms of the employment contract, destroys the relationship to the point where the employment relationship is irreparable.

Before proceeding with a for cause termination, it’s recommended that the employer conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and gives the employee an opportunity to present their side of the story.

If an employee feels they have been wrongfully terminated, they could potentially file a claim against their employer. Legal advice is highly recommended for both employers considering this action and employees who have been terminated for cause.


  1. Violation of Company Policies: Company policies are instituted to ensure a conducive work environment and smooth operation of business activities. Violating these regulations is one of the top reasons employees are dismissed in Alberta. These policies may range from confidentiality agreements to drug and alcohol consumption, workplace violence, or insubordination. Employees are expected to adhere strictly to these rules to maintain a professional and respectful workspace. Breaching them can lead to instant dismissal.
  2. Poor Performance or Incompetence: A job comes with specific duties and responsibilities, which an employee is expected to fulfil adequately. In Alberta, incompetence or consistently poor performance is a significant reason for employee dismissal. The employer often monitors productivity and quality of work and could terminate an employee if the standards aren’t met repeatedly, even after coaching, counselling or training.
  3. Harassment or Discrimination: Alberta’s workplaces are governed by strict laws prohibiting harassment and discrimination, whether based on sex, race, religion, age, or any other characteristic. Employees who engage in any form of harassment, bullying or discriminatory behaviour can be instantly dismissed. Maintaining a respectful and inclusive work environment is a high priority, and any actions contrary to this can lead to job termination.
  4. Misuse of Company Resources: Misuse or theft of company resources is another major cause for dismissal. This can range from theft of physical assets to unauthorized use of company time, information, or technology for personal gain. Even minor offences, such as excessive personal use of the internet, printing personal documents, or excessive personal calls, can accumulate over time and result in termination.
  5. Lack of Honesty and Integrity: Employers value honesty and integrity in their employees. In Alberta, dishonest behaviour, such as falsifying time records, lying about job qualifications, or engaging in fraudulent activities, can lead to instant dismissal. Such actions erode trust and can cause substantial harm to the company.
  6. Attendance Issues: Consistent tardiness, frequent absences, or abandoning the job without reason or notice, are common reasons for job terminations in Alberta. Regular attendance is crucial to maintaining workflow and productivity. If an employee consistently fails to meet attendance expectations, it can lead to termination, even if the employee’s work performance is otherwise satisfactory.
  7. Breach of Safety Regulations: Workplaces in Alberta have strict safety regulations, especially in industries such as construction, oil and gas, or healthcare. Failure to follow these regulations not only puts the employee’s safety at risk, but it can also endanger coworkers and potentially expose the employer to legal issues. Employees can be terminated for such breaches, particularly if they’re repeated or lead to serious consequences.
  8. Failure to Keep up with Technological Changes: The modern workplace is rapidly evolving, with new technologies being introduced frequently. Employees who fail to adapt or learn new skills as needed can become a liability. In Alberta’s tech-driven industries, not keeping up with technological changes can lead to job termination.
  9. Negative Attitude or Behaviour: Maintaining a positive work environment is crucial for productivity and employee satisfaction. If an employee consistently exhibits a negative attitude, causing conflict, lowering team morale, or creating a hostile environment, it could result in dismissal. Employers value employees who contribute to a positive, collaborative atmosphere.
  10. Conflicts of Interest: Employees are expected to act in the best interest of their employer. Engaging in activities that create a conflict of interest, such as working for a competitor or starting a business that competes with the employer, is grounds for dismissal in Alberta. Similarly, using proprietary knowledge or confidential information for personal gain can also lead to termination.

In conclusion, getting fired is often a result of poor decisions, lack of integrity, or inability to meet job expectations. Employees can avoid termination by adhering to company policies, demonstrating commitment and integrity, and continually improving their skills. Remember, maintaining professionalism, respecting others, and working hard are key to keeping your job secure in Alberta.