“Just Cause”


A basic principle in disciplinary cases is that management must have “just cause” to impose the discipline. Arbitrators’ decisions over the years have resulted in a kind of measuring stick — known as the “Seven Tests of Just Cause” — that can be applied to discipline cases.

“Seven Tests of Just Cause”

  1. Was the employee adequately warned of the probable consequences of the employee’s conduct?
  2. Was the employer’s rule or order reasonably related to the efficient and safe operation of the job function?
  3. Did management investigate before administering the discipline?
  4. Was management’s investigation fair and objective?
  5. Did the investigation produce substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty of the offense?
  6. Has the employer applied its rules, orders and penalties evenly and without discrimination?
  7. Was the amount of discipline reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense and the employee’s past service and record? (Did the “punishment fit the crime?)


If the answer to one or more of these questions is “no,” the union can argue that management did not have just cause to take the disciplinary action.