A while ago I was fired for just cause. They gave me no warning and did it to several other employees. I tried to dispute it with the labor board. I was told the company I had worked for provides a federal service I wasn't eligible to dispute because I had worked there for less than a year. I forget if they used the word "probationary period" but this seems to describe the situation. I managed to get the explanation the just cause was I "wasn't meeting expectations". To my understanding normally just cause requires a lot more than this but the laws are different for federally regulated companies.

When applying for other jobs they ask if I've been fired (for just cause) before. If I was fired before a probationary period ended, does this count? Does my description meet the criteria for probationary period?

The thing is many job applications have a form where I can only answer yes or no without details.

  • Is there the capacity for your potential new employer to contact your old employer? Jul 11, 2019 at 6:54
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    Where I live, being fired with "no reason" would be something the judge would not even let go to trial. You cannot be fired "for just cause" but without a reason. That's beyond stupid.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 11, 2019 at 9:15
  • @nvoigt It's the same where I live but, as an example, a lot of America you can be fired at-will. Also where I live, your employment can be terminated in probationary period. Jul 11, 2019 at 9:17
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    I agree, but even in the US, it would be stupid to be "fired for cause" and then not actually giving the cause to the one who got fired. You can be fired for any (non-protected) reason or no reason at all, but if there is a reason, it should be communicated. Otherwise it's "no reason".
    – nvoigt
    Jul 11, 2019 at 9:19
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    Also, where I live the probationary period can be ended by any side, that's why it's a probation period, but it's different from being fired for cause. Being fired for cause needs a "cause", while terminating probation does not.
    – nvoigt
    Jul 11, 2019 at 9:22

4 Answers 4


I would say that getting fired is getting fired, regardless of whether you're in the probation period or not. If the offense was too severe to merit working with you on the issues or otherwise deciding not to proceed with your probation period, then you'd have to tick that box.

Most decent companies would attempt to address the issue at hand with a view to resolving it. If you or the company decide not to go ahead with the probation period, then that's not counted as "getting fired".

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    I suppose the OP should have clarified when they were "fired" if they were getting fired, or not accepted to continue past probation period. Jul 11, 2019 at 9:17
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    Usually "cause" doesn't include "didn't live up to expectations". I think @GregoryCurrie's framing is the better -- the OP wasn't "fired", they simply weren't allowed to continue. My question to the OP would be eligibility for unemployment. If they were eligible, and especially if they received it, I would answer "No" to the "Fired" question. Jul 11, 2019 at 22:56

One more advice for the future:

Conditions of employment should be clearly written, on paper (or in an electronic form).

Specifically, related to this case, the length of the probation period should be clearly written and known ahead of time, before you even accept the offer. It should be in the job offer they give you, or in places where employment contracts are the norm, in the contract, or whatever other paper is appropriate for the given country.

This applies to any other significant conditions as well.

You should never get into a situation where there is a doubt about such things, any unclear requirements, etc etc.

You should be able to prove, should it become necessary, that you were or weren't on the probation period.


When applying for other jobs they ask if I've been fired (for just cause) before. If I was fired before a probationary period ended, does this count? Does my description meet the criteria for probationary period?

Yes your description meets the criteria. They are directly asking you if you were fired and you stated that you were fired so you should answer "yes". Leaving out a potentially important detail from your application could hurt you once you reach the later stages of the application process. It is better to be honest from the beginning than to surprise your potential employer later with details that they specifically asked for and you did not divulge.


That doesn't sound as if you were fired for just cause but let go in the probationary period.

Just cause as I know it is a cause for firing to circumvent labour protection laws. This applies for example if you embessled money, stole from your company, repeatedly didn't show up for work without giving a valid reason or did other things that damaged the company. I am not a canadian lawyer so you might have to check up in the canadian labour law.

Depending on the law, this might even be a question you are allowed to lie about. For example if you embessled money and are applying for a job as a driver where you don't have to handle money, you might even be allowed to lie if this question comes up. But I am on pretty shakey ground here. You might really have to consult an expert on canadian labour law about this.

  • There is absolutely no evidence that the year was a probationary period. Many laws protect people only after they have been working somewhere a certain amount of time, but that doesn't that period is 'probationary'. A probationary period is something agreed on between employer and employee. Jul 11, 2019 at 13:57
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    @DJClayworth He worked there <b>less</b> than a year so it is entirely possible that he was let go during the probationary period. During this time it is entirely possible to be let go for "not meeting expectations" since normally no cause is needed during this period. I think if he was fired for just cause, the just cause has to be named iin writing and it has to be provable. Maybe just cause means something different in Canada, or it was just a cause they gave him and communicated badly. More information is needed to decide Jul 11, 2019 at 14:57
  • Yes it's possible, but we have nothing to say its true. Jul 11, 2019 at 15:31
  • This is getting downvotes probably because it doesn't answer the question, but I think Mangocherry is right, you don't need "just cause" to fire someone in the probationary period. Just cause has a specific meaning: In the workplace, just cause is a burden of proof or standard that an employer must meet to justify discipline or discharge. Just cause usually refers to a violation of a company policy or rule. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_cause
    – f.thorpe
    Jul 18, 2021 at 12:05

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