1109 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary, AB T2E 3K3 | 348 14 Street NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1Z7

Employees terminated for cause on grounds of misconduct can still claim EI successfully in Alberta

EMPLOYEES TERMINATED FOR CAUSE on grounds of misconduct can still claim EI successfully in Alberta. Osuji & Smith, CALGARY EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS explain

Understanding Employee Rights: Successful EI Claims Post-Misconduct Termination in Alberta – An Insight from OSUJI & SMITH, CALGARY’S EMPLOYMENT LAWYERS

The complexity surrounding employment termination in Alberta and subsequent eligibility for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in Alberta is a challenging sphere of employment law, often leaving affected individuals in a state of uncertainty. In Alberta, a prevailing assumption is that termination for cause, especially on grounds of misconduct, invariably disqualifies one from receiving EI benefits. However, this narrative is not an absolute. The employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith, a leading employment law firm in Calgary, delve into the nuances of this aspect of employment law, elucidating circumstances under which employees terminated for alleged misconduct can successfully stake a claim for EI benefits in Alberta.


In the realm of employment, ‘termination for cause‘ refers to an employer ending an employee’s contract, with the rationale that the employee’s actions constitute a fundamental breach of their employment agreement. This breach often falls under the category of ‘misconduct’ – a broad term encompassing various inappropriate workplace behaviors, ranging from habitual tardiness to more severe infractions like theft or workplace harassment.

Conventional belief suggests such termination negates the individual’s right to severance and other post-employment benefits, including EI. However, as the employment lawyers at Osuji & Smith point out, the reality presents a spectrum of considerations.

The EI Eligibility Criteria in Alberta

Employment Insurance (EI) operates as a fundamental pillar of Canada’s social security net, offering temporary financial assistance to individuals between jobs. Generally, employees dismissed without cause – such as in cases of staff downsizing – are entitled to EI benefits. Contrarily, those terminated for misconduct are often deemed ineligible.

However, Osuji & Smith employment lawyers emphasize that ‘misconduct’ within the EI eligibility framework is construed more narrowly compared to its general perception in employment law. For EI purposes, misconduct is an act deliberately perpetrated by the employee, constituting a wilful disregard of the employer’s interests, making continued employment untenable. It’s the onus of the employer to conclusively demonstrate that the employee’s actions fell within this ambit.

Employees terminated for cause on grounds of misconduct can still claim EI successfully in Alberta. Osuji & Smith, Calgary employment lawyers explain
Employees terminated for cause on grounds of misconduct can still claim EI successfully in Alberta. Osuji & Smith, Calgary employment lawyers explain

Grey Areas and Legal Contentions

The challenge, Osuji & Smith explain, arises in establishing the ‘wilfulness’ of the misconduct. Many actions resulting in termination stem from negligence, misunderstanding, or inability rather than deliberate intent. For instance, consistent lateness caused by external factors might lead to termination but does not necessarily exhibit wilful disregard on the employee’s part.

Additionally, the legal threshold necessitates that the employee was aware or reasonably should have been aware that their actions were inappropriate and could lead to dismissal—a contention often murky and subjective in legal interpretation.

In scenarios where an employee is unfairly labeled as having committed misconduct or where the misconduct did not meet the EI program’s strict definition, there’s significant legal leeway for the individual to contest their EI ineligibility.

Role of Legal Advocacy in Alberta

Herein lies the critical importance of skilled legal advocacy, as provided by teams like Osuji & Smith. Navigating the convolutions of EI eligibility post-termination requires a comprehensive understanding of employment law, EI program mandates, and adeptness in legal representation.

Employees facing denial of EI benefits post a misconduct-based termination must promptly seek legal counsel. The process involves a meticulous review of employment records, the circumstances surrounding the alleged misconduct, and an assessment of the employer’s policies and past disciplinary practices. Employment lawyers advocate for the employee by either contesting the characterization of their actions as ‘misconduct’ or arguing the absence of ‘wilful’ intent, focusing on nuances that humanize the employee’s situation and argue for the social utility of the EI program.

Legal practitioners may also highlight procedural inconsistencies in the termination process, underscoring the principles of natural justice and fair dealing. Often, how the employer communicated and enforced its policies can influence whether the termination and subsequent EI denial were justified.

The narrative that termination for misconduct invariably results in EI ineligibility is a nuanced statement and not a blanket rule. The dedicated legal professionals at Osuji & Smith Calgary Employment Law, with their profound understanding of employment law dynamics, stand at the forefront of challenging this misconception. They champion the rights of aggrieved employees, emphasizing that amid the legal technicalities, the human element of employment disputes must not be disregarded.

Employees unjustly terminated under the banner of ‘misconduct’ and struggling with EI benefits’ denial must understand that they’re not without recourse. With the aid of seasoned employment lawyers, they can traverse the complexities of the legal system to potentially secure the financial lifeline that EI benefits are designed to be.