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Canada’s British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) affirmed the trial judge’s decision that secretly recording colleagues in the workplace constituted just cause for termination.

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Canada’s British Columbia Court of Appeal (“BCCA”) affirmed the trial judge’s decision that secretly recording colleagues in the workplace constituted just cause for termination.


The Plaintiff was a certified professional accountant (CPA) who was employed by Mercer Celgar Limited Partnership (the Employer) as a financial analyst.  In 2020, after 10 years of employment, the Employer terminated the Plaintiff on a without-case basis.

Following his termination, the Plaintiff filed a wrongful dismissal action in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, as well as an employment standards and human rights complaint. During the legal proceedings, the Plaintiff disclosed various documents which revealed that he had made hundreds of surreptitious recordings in the workplace throughout his 10-year tenure with the Employer. The recordings included recordings of one-on-one sessions, meetings with managers and human resources personnel, toolbox meetings, as well as conversations with colleagues.

After learning about the recordings, the Employer amended its pleadings in the wrongful dismissal action to allege that the recordings demonstrated a character of untrustworthiness that was incompatible with continued employment and constituted after-acquired cause for the Plaintiff’s dismissal.


The central issue at trial was whether the Plaintiff’s conduct in making the surreptitious recordings constituted just cause for termination. 

The following factors supported the finding of just cause:

  • the Plaintiff knew that the conduct was ethically wrong;
  • as a CPA, the Plaintiff was expected to respect the standards established by his profession;
  • there was no legitimate basis for Plaintiff to make the recordings and the recordings were used solely for Plaintiff’s advantage;
  • the recordings violated the privacy interests of those who were recorded and those discussed in the recordings; and
  • from a policy perspective, it would not be a positive development to encourage employees to secretly record their co-workers.


The Plaintiff appealed the decision to the British Columbia Court of Appeal because the trial judge erred in applying the just cause test. The Court of Appeal upheld the trial judge’s decision and dismissed the appeal.


This decision emphasizes the importance that the court places on the privacy rights of individuals and employees and serves as a reminder that an employee’s actions, especially those that infringe upon trust and privacy, can constitute cause for termination.

Proprietary blog of Karma Global – collated and compiled by the internal staff of Karma Global  with the knowledge and expertise that they possess,  besides adaptation, illustration, derivation, transformation, collection and auto-generation for its monthly newsletter Issue 19  of  January 2024  and in case of specific or general information or compliance updates for that matter, kindly reach out to the Marketing Team – /

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