The first thing of which you ought to be aware as someone who works at a bank is that you are federally regulated. This means that your statutory rights are governed by the Canada Labour Code, 1985 (“CLC”). When the CLC came became law, its purpose was to create similar protections arising out of the rules of dismissal to those accorded to unionized employees. For instance, a unionized employee can usually be terminated only if they are dismissed for just cause. Even after they are dismissed, they are free to grieve and arbitrate their dismissal. If successful, the arbitrator can reinstate them to their job with full backpay and fashion other remedies as he or she deems appropriate.
Similarly, if you are a bank employee who is dismissed for just cause you may either pursue a standard civil lawsuit against your former employer or have your dismissal decided by an adjudicator who can reinstate you to your former position and make you “whole” for the period of unemployment following your dismissal. An adjudicator will likely examine if you were the subject of performance reviews or progressive discipline prior to your dismissal to determine if the employer was justified in severing your employment summarily.
Although bank employees are entitled to progressive discipline prior to the termination of their employment for cause, bank employees are in a position of trust. This is because bank employees deal with financial matters. Honesty and integrity are important components of any employment relationship in all workplaces, however, these notions are at the forefront of the analysis when it comes to those employed by a bank. For instance, employees who engage in “kiting” (a practice involving the withdrawal funds following a deposit of a bad cheque from one bank account to another bank account) without adequate explanation, could be dismissed summarily even after many years of service. However, typically under most circumstances, some measure of progressive discipline must apply before a bank employer decides to terminate an employee and failure to do so may result in the dismissal being deemed unjust.
Over the course of our years of practice, we have represented numerous bank employees successfully. This is in spite of the fact that each case always presented its own unique facts and challenges with various degrees of severity. Our best initial advice was and always remains: if you are presented with a dismissal letter from your bank employer, obtain legal advice from a qualified employment lawyer first before taking any steps in your matter.