We act for employers and employees in a wide range of claims, including wrongful, constructive and unjust dismissals, workplace discrimination/human rights claims, non-competition and non-solicitation claims and much more. In addition, we provide advisory services on the various legal issues that employers and employees face throughout the employment life-cycle, such as preparing employment agreements and building robust independent contractor engagements. Here is a bit more on some of our employment services:
A wrongful dismissal occurs where an employee is terminated without adequate notice of termination or adequate pay in lieu of notice. The “reasonable notice period” depends upon the employee’s age, education, years of service with the company and various other factors. In most terminations, notice pay is the central dispute between the parties. The exception to that is where the employer is claiming “just cause” for termination, in cases involving theft, conflicts of interest, insubordination and other serious allegations. If an employer can establish just cause, which is increasingly difficult to do, it can terminate the employee without any notice obligations. We act for employers and employees in termination pay negotiations and in wrongful dismissal cases, including just cause claims, with great results.
A constructive dismissal involves unilateral actions by the employer that results in a fundamental change to the employment contract, such as significant changes to compensation, title and duties. A constructive dismissal can even exist where there is a pattern of abusive behavior against the employee. If an employee is constructively dismissed, he/she may be entitled to consider him/herself terminated and sue for damages, including notice pay and other compensation. Constructive dismissals are a highly complex area of employment law and employees should not take steps without consulting a lawyer.
Employment-based discrimination is one of the largest complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, ancestry, race, ethnic origin, disability, gender, religion, sex and sexual orientation. Human rights complaints usually take the form of discrimination or sexual harassment claims. Under the Code, discrimination can occur as early as the job posting itself, and as late as after an employee is dismissed or resigns. If an employee is able to prove discrimination, he/she may be entitled to lost wages, damages for injury to dignity, feelings and self-respect and other compensation. There is a general trend towards higher damages awards in discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Our lawyers have successfully represented employers and employees in such cases.
A departing employee, director or officer may be prohibited from competing with his/her former employer if their contract contains non-competition and non-solicitation clauses. In some cases, an individual may even have fiduciary obligations to their former employer that prevent them from competing. Together, such restrictions are often referred to as “restraints of trade”. When a departing employee competes with their former employer, a number of key issues arise, such as: Are the non-compete and non-solicit clauses enforceable? Was the employee a fiduciary to the company? Have they actively solicited customers? Is an injunction needed to restrain the departing employee? We have represented employers and departing employees in such cases, including in emergency injunctions to restrain unlawful competition and also to preserve a departing employee’s right to lawfully compete.
As the modern workplace evolves, the use of independent contractors has continued to rise. Businesses and their contractors must craft their contractor agreements and business arrangements carefully to avoid unintended outcomes. A poorly executed contractor arrangement can lead to unplanned payroll tax and HST liabilities, notice pay and severance obligations and other exposures. We have assisted businesses and contractors to create more robust and predictable contractor arrangements.
In addition to litigation services, we regularly advise employers and employees on termination packages, hiring practices, employment contracts, workplace policies, Employment Standards Act compliance and disability issues.