Can you get fired because of “difficult” behavior?

Everyone sometimes goes wrong and nobody is perfect. We may therefore not always behave in an exemplary way at work. But can wrong behavior be a reason to fire you?

The shortest answer to this question is yes, you can get fired as a result of problematic behavior. But many nuances must be added immediately because one behavioral problem is of course not the other. It is a very general term. Is it, for example, about a well-functioning colleague who has been adopting a negative attitude lately, or someone who has seriously spoiled the atmosphere in the workplace from day one? Are we talking about an employee who steals or is aggressive? This can also fall under the heading of behavioral problems. Or maybe an employer finds a staff member who manifestly defends employees’ interests problematic?

No official list

In Nigeria, there is no official list of reasons why someone can be fired. Just like the employee, the employer has the right to unilaterally terminate the employment contract. There are some reservations about this freedom to prevent abuse.

First and foremost, the employer must, of course, follow the legal rules. For example, he will have to respect a cancellation period or the employee must pay a termination compensation, whether he terminates the contract after a few months or after decades of cooperation.

In principle, the employer must not justify dismissal. In other countries, there is sometimes a procedure through the inspection or court, but with us, the legislation in this area is fairly flexible. You can dismiss an individual employee without strict justification. There are, however, three exceptions.

Urgent reasons

If your boss fires you for urgent reasons, he or she will have to prove that you have committed a mistake so serious that the collaboration is immediately and definitively impossible. The dismissal must take place within three working days after the facts committed are known. You do not perform a cancellation period and you will not receive a termination compensation.

 Can you get fired because of 'difficult' behavior

There is also no official list of behaviors that are considered an urgent reason, but labor regulations must list urgent reasons. Often these are things like theft, aggression, fraud or conflict of interest. However, it is not because something is included in the work regulations that it is actually an urgent reason. Or vice versa, that it cannot be any if it is not in it. If an employee does not agree with dismissal

for an urgent reason, he can take legal action. The court will then decide on the case and will have the final say. If he or she finds that there is no urgent reason, the employee will still be entitled to a severance payment.


Furthermore, your boss cannot dismiss you for no reason when you, as an employee, enjoy legal dismissal protection. This protection applies in many situations. For example in the case of pregnancy and with time credit or educational leave.

It always concerns situations where you exercise a legal right, but which an employer may not be happy with. In order to protect employees against possible retaliation, the protection against dismissal has been created. If you still receive your C4 in such a situation, the employer must demonstrate that the reason for your dismissal is independent of the reason why you are protected. For example, if you are expecting, you can still be fired for economic reasons or if you commit a total crime.

Justification for dismissal

Thirdly, employees have been able to request dismissal reasons since 2014. Under normal circumstances, an employer must not actively motivate a dismissal, unless the dismissed employee asks for it himself. In the event that the employee does not agree with the reason for his dismissal, the check will be carried out again by the court. If the court is of the opinion that the dismissal is ‘apparently unreasonable’, the employee can claim an additional allowance of 3 to 17 weeks’ salary.

Context is everything

Whether someone can be fired because of behavioral problems, therefore, depends strongly on the nature of those behavioral problems and the context. It is ultimately up to the judge to pass judgment. This will always take into account factors such as the past of the dismissed employee, the efforts that have been made to adjust negative behavior and the impact it has on colleagues or customers.

For example, someone who has already had a good career with his employer but suddenly shows negative behavior for private reasons will be assessed differently than a new colleague who acts like a tyrant from the start. The court will also place contextual insults at the address of your supervisor in its context. To let an ugly word or insult escape in the fire of an argument.

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