Removal for cause happens when someone gets taken out of a position because something against policy occurred. For an employer to fire an employee for cause, there are specific factors to consider. First, it starts by understanding the different causes and their ramifications.

Cause: Definition

Cause is the situation or action that causes ground for a legal ramification. For example, Joan is driving and turns around for a second when she hears her baby scream. She startled by a bump — she hits the car in front of her. Joan's inattention caused the accident, not her baby's scream.

Cause and Causality in American Law

If an employee is let for sexual harassment, his firing is for cause. In criminal law probable cause is sufficient enough to believe someone committed a crime and allow law officers to arrest them.

In civil law, the injured party must prove the defendant is responsible for the alleged harm. The plaintiff must show, but for the defendant's negligence or conduct, the injury would not have occurred.

Actual Cause

There two causal terms to distinguish: actual cause and immediate cause.

  • An actual cause is an event responsible for an injury. For example, a person shoves another person, who then falls down the stairs and results in a broken leg. The actual cause is the shove.
  • The immediate cause is the event that caused the injury. In the above example, the fall down the stairs caused the injury.

An injury's actual cause and the immediate cause can be the same. For example, one person hits another person in the eye which causes an eye injury. The actual cause and the immediate cause are the same.

Concurrent Cause

A concurrent cause is when it happens at the same and causes the injury or harm. Though they occurred at the same time, either even in itself would have resulted in injury or harm. A person gets by one person and stabbed by another at the same time. Either one of these events alone would have caused injury.

Intervening Cause

An intervening cause is an event that disrupts the natural progress between the wrong and the injury, and it causes the natural progression to deviate, producing an unanticipated consequence. For instance, one person pushes another person against a barrier. The barrier was rotting and ready to give at any moment. The injured party falls. The intervening cause is the rotting barrier. If the person or company responsible for the barrier had prior knowledge, then they would be liable for the person falling.

Proximate Cause

Proximate cause of an injury results if the defendant had not committed or omitted an act, the injury would not have occurred. Your neighbor is burning trash in his backyard. The fire gets out of control and burns down other homes including yours. The trash burning is the proximate cause of the fire.

Unforeseeable Cause

An unforeseeable cause is one that has an unexpected after-effect from the proximate cause. A disc jockey lightly pushes a fan standing too close to his equipment. The person he pushes trips and breaks a bone. The injured person, it turns out, has Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). This disease cause bones to break easily. The DJ's actions did not cause the severe injury.

Remote Cause

A remote cause is one that is separate from the proximate cause. For instance, a person goes to the hospital after a drunk driver hit him. The hospital accidentally gives the patient the wrong treatment leading to a severe reaction. Both the hospital and the drunk driver would more than likely share liability.

Removal for Cause

Employers are not the only one that can remove a person for cause, the jury selection process is also an example of it. When attorneys are questioning jury members, they can use two methods to remove them from the jury pool.

  1. They can do a peremptory strike where they remove a person without giving any reason.
  2. They can also remove them for cause meaning they do not believe the person would be impartial.

If you terminate an employee for cause, make sure it is a just cause, or it can lead to unwanted consequences.


If you need help with a partnership agreement, you can post your legal on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.