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Employment Law

Resolving Workplace Issues

If you’ve never worked with an employment lawyer before, you probably think that it’s not that complicated. Jobs come and go, contracts and policies are just a formality and wrongful termination payouts are usually decided by the Employment Standards Act, right?

Nothing could be further from the truth. Employment law changes frequently, and can be a moving target for both employers and employees. Changes to legislation can invalidate contracts, they can make policies outdated and ineffective, and they can mean that the protections you thought you had in place won’t do much to help you in a time of crisis.

Don’t get caught unaware. Having an employment lawyer in your corner means that both employers and employees are well-protected, and well-advised when making difficult decisions.

The other misconception is that employment law is only about terminations. Employment lawyers help out at every stage of the working relationship, from hiring and employment contracts to policy drafting and enforcement to dealing with discipline issues. We try to make things right for employers and employees from day one, so that hopefully any dismissals later on will go as smoothly as possible.

We help employees with:

  • Employment contract reviews
  • Navigating workplace discipline
  • Wrongful dismissal and severance package review
  • Constructive dismissal

We also help employers with:

  • Employment contract drafting
  • Workplace policy drafting and implementation
  • Workplace training
  • Termination and severance packages
  • Employment litigation

If you think you need to call an employment lawyer, you probably did yesterday. Reach out to our team to set up a consultation. We can help address whatever issues you’re currently facing, and work together to right the ship for the long haul.

Further Information

Whatever your problem, chances are we can help. Call us at +1 647 243 5111 and our team will will expedite your case.

Employment Law – Frequently Asked Questions

What is constructive dismissal?
Constructive dismissal is one of the hottest topics in employment law, and often the most misunderstood. In very broad terms, constructive dismissal happens when the employer makes significant, unilateral changes to the employment relationship, such as demoting an employee, cutting their salary, or some other drastic measure. This shows that an employer is acting on their own without consulting the employee or giving them a say in the matter. The employer is effectively showing that, by their actions, they no longer intend to be bound by the employment relationship. The employee’s work as they knew it has effectively ended, and they may be able to claim (sue) for damages (money).
What is wrongful termination?
Without a set end date, an employment contract could potentially run as long as the employee is alive. If the employer decides to end the relationship earlier than that, they either owe the employee advanced notice that things will be ending, or pay in lieu of notice. If the employer does not provide either (and many do not), that constitutes wrongful dismissal. An employer has not provided the employee what they are owed, and the employee can make a claim for damages for wrongful termination.
Are employees automatically owed one month per year of service?
No! This is the legal version of an ‘old wives tale,’ and has never actually been the law in Ontario. However, in some cases, it also might not be a bad benchmark. Employers and employees can contract into an amount that the employee is owed on termination, so long as it’s above the legally required minimums, Without an effective contract in place, an employee is owed reasonable notice, which is an amount calculated based on their age, their experience, their seniority, and the job market. Sometimes that may resemble one month per year of service, but it’s not the case every time and is very dependent on circumstances.
What does termination with cause mean?
In Ontario there are two ways to end someone’s employment – with cause, or without cause. The legal definition of ‘with cause’ is very different than what most employers think it is. If you didn’t like an employee’s performance, or they were not a great fit, you may have your own reasons but that does not mean it’s a termination ‘with cause.’ Termination with cause is like the capital punishment of employment law. You’re effectively sending the employee out the door that day with no payment. These are very serious cases, and in most instances the employee is still owed their legal minimums. Employers can be punished for falsifying a cause case, so consult with your lawyer before making this decision.
What happens if there is no written employment contract?
Even if there’s no written employment contract in place, there is still an employment contract – it’s just not a written one! In those cases, the majority of the contract is set out by the prevailing employment law, either the Employment Standards Act or the Canada Labour Code depending on the nature of the employer. The only thing NOT determined by legislation is termination pay. The law sets out minimum standards for termination pay, but without a written agreement employers are not locked into paying only the minimums. Instead, they’ll owe employees reasonable notice if they terminate their employment, which could be months, or even years more in pay.
Do we need to go to court to solve every termination case?
No, in fact, nearly 99% of all civil law cases settle out of court! Going to court is an expensive proposition, and there are no guarantees of success. Even if you are successful, the time spent is time that you cannot recover, and even if the other side pays a portion of your legal fees you’ll likely still be on the hook for the rest. Most employment law cases today are settled through alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. A court action is a valuable tool, but you may be able to resolve your matter earlier. There are also specific court motions called ‘summary judgment,’ which is a much simpler court proceeding to solve something straightforward, like the amount of reasonable notice an employee should receive.
Do we really need a workplace policy manual?
Workplace policy manuals are often thought of as something from the 80s and 90s – this thick booklet that lives in a desk drawer that no one ever looks at. Truth be told, if you have a policy manual that doesn’t reflect your business, and that you’re not using to train your employees, then it may not be doing you much good. To have policies that you can rely on, you need to treat them properly. Some are legally mandated, and others are smart to have, but either way you need to review them regularly to make sure that they are still current. You also need to train your team on those policies and your expectations. Good policies not only keep you compliant, but they can be helpful if you intend on disciplining or terminating an employee because of policy violations.

Do you want to know more or need a consultation?

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