Wrongful dismissal alternatively known as wrongful termination of a contract of employment or unfair dismissal relates to the wrongful repudiation of a contract. Wrongful termination of a contract of employment may stem from a variety causes attributable to either party. There are instances under which an employer can manifest the wrongful dismissal of an employee. Some of these instances are as follows;
- Opinions of the worker/employee: The exercise of some freedom is guaranteed by the state and if the basis of these freedoms is a cause for the dismissal of a worker, then the employer will be liable for wrongful dismissal. Such freedom include freedom of religion, freedom of political opinion and affiliation etc.
- Union Activities or Membership: The Cameroon labour code of 1992 recognises the worker’s liberty to form or join any trade union or worker’s association of his choice. An employer may therefore not dismiss any worker because of his union activities or seeking office to act as a worker’s representative. The labour code goes further to emphasize that any ex-staff representative or candidate to that office may not be dismissed until the expiry of 6 months after their mandate ended or after filing of nomination papers.
- Procedural Default: This is the origin of the greatest number of cases of wrongful dismissal before the courts in Cameroon. The most common of these default is notice. That is either the notice is not at the right length of time by law or there is no notice at all.
There are special procedures laid down by the labour code to be respected in the case of mass dismissal of staff representative. This is the case where the economic and financial pressures constrain the employer to reduce manpower. If this procedure isn’t respected, then the employer will be liable for wrongful dismissal.
- Substantive Default: The basis of most wrongful dismissal cases is based on whether it was fair or not. Did the employer act fairly and reasonably in dismissing the worker for the reason(s) alleged by him? Hence was there a substantive cause for dismissal or was it merely a pretext.