Executive Employment Law
Toronto Executive Employment Lawyers for Executives, Directors, and Senior Managers
What distinguishes the Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP is a high-end litigation approach to complex executive employment files.
That means a large volume of the cases handled by our Toronto employment law firm involve matters such as executive employment agreements and torts – as opposed to employment law firms whose work revolves around more straightforward litigation like those involving severance packages.
Further, our Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP also have extensive experience defending executive clients against a non-competition injunction.
Why work with our Toronto executive employment lawyers?
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP are steadfast advocates and advisors in executive employment law matters who take a skillful and aggressive approach to assist clients with their legal needs. The Toronto employment law firm’s practice focuses on navigating difficult and litigious situations for their clients to achieve favourable outcomes and settlements.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers know that executive employment matters usually have a higher level of complexity than conventional employment law files. Executives have individual needs and challenges with respect to their compensation and structure, contracts, and terminations.
Complex employment law litigation isn’t a road anyone wants to go down. Still, if it becomes necessary, our Toronto executive employment lawyers have the qualifications to take your matter to trial or arbitration – we have a reputation as steadfast fighters on behalf of our clients.
For example, in Livshin v. The Clinic Network Canada (2021), a case Frank Portman , our lead Toronto employment lawyer, successfully represented, Justice William D. Black of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice provided guidance on the interpretation of termination clauses in his decision. He found that legal advice, sophistication, and negotiation do not affect enforceability.
Even though executives and senior managers are savvy, the Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP warn that it’s best to resist the temptation to go it alone without senior counsel by your side right from the beginning and before your new employment relationship even starts.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers’ focus on litigation gives them valuable perspective on what could be tucked into the legalese in a contract written by an employer’s counsel. And they are also on top of current caselaw that can be of benefit to an executive client.
Reasons why you should work with our Toronto employment law firm include:
- Our Toronto executive employment lawyers know that executive employment matters are distinct from regular employment cases.
- The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP are experienced in working with senior executives, many of whom are high profile.
- We handle negotiations discreetly, keeping our clients out of the media spotlight.
- In the event a matter does draw media attention, we have media relations/crisis public relations resources available for our clients.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers focus on these types of executive employment matters
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP understand it’s imperative for executive clients to have an enhanced level of legal services: the firm’s employment practice is focused on providing guidance to cover all stages of the executive’s employment relationship.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers know you are a skilled professional at the top of your industry, and an employer may reward that expertise with valuable compensation plans in return. The stakes are high and having our Toronto executive employment lawyers at your side can ward off future legal issues sneaking into the relationship.
But if they do, our Toronto executive employment lawyers will provide a legal cloak to buffer you if things go sideways when you exit.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP offer the following services to executive clients seeking professional legal advice:
Executive employment contracts: Our Toronto executive employment lawyers are ready to join you from the start of the process and will conduct the negotiations if requested and provide advice and insight. We carry through with an intensive review of the draft agreement.
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP also provide advice on:
- Investigations/regulatory charges
- Bonus plans/stock options/liquidity
- Constructive dismissal
- Deferred compensation
- Executive bonus structures
- Fiduciary duties
- Investigations/regulatory charges
- M & A issues/restructuring
- Performance incentives
- Review offers
- Severance packages and change in control agreements
- Wrongful dismissal
Our Toronto workplace lawyers and executive employment contracts
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP have broad and deep experience handling executive employment agreements, which tend to be heavily negotiated documents subject to complicated legal rules, and terms.
While an executive agreement is generally individualized and not the typical formula, there are important clauses commonly found in solid executive employment contracts, say our Toronto workplace lawyers. They are:
- Accelerated vesting
- Base salary
- Change of control
- Commission structure
- Definition of good cause
- Definition of good reason
- Equity package
- Pension plan accrual
- Signing bonus
- Specified employee
Our Toronto workplace lawyers and executive bonus structures, performance incentives
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP know that bonus structures and performance incentives can make up a sizeable part of an executive employee’s employment agreement. This type of compensation includes bonuses, profit sharing, commissions, stock options, and ownership – incentives to spur the employee to hit defined goals and performance.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers understand some employers set up bonuses with respect to future work as opposed to past results and use clauses making the bonus payable only if they’re working there when it’s paid. In addition, some bonuses will be deemed discretionary.
But a flurry of recent litigation in the area is a shot across the bow for employers who paid the bonus compensation on past appointed dates during the executive’s employment, to tread lightly during a termination or resignation common law notice period. Our Toronto executive employment lawyers are vigilant as to whether an employer is trying to use those clauses to avoid paying out.
In Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. (2020), the Supreme Court of Canada found that the incentive compensation clause provisions language “must be absolutely clear and unambiguous” to exclude the entitlements in that circumstance.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP are seasoned litigators in this area and keep a sharp eye out for clauses that would try to limit the payout of bonuses at the time of drafting an agreement. Or file a civil lawsuit against the employer for damages arising from an older contract.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers on non-competes and injunctions
The Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP note that while effective Oct. 25, 2021 non-competition agreements became illegal in Ontario by an amendment to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), executives were carved out of the change to the law and can still be subject to these prohibitions.
Our Toronto executive employment lawyers explain that a non-compete is an agreement that disallows an employee from any business, work, occupation, profession, project or other activity that competes with the employer’s business after the employment ends. Often there are time and geographical limits.
During an interlocutory injunction matter, Parekh et al v. Schecter et al (2022), in which leading counsel at our Toronto employment law firm Frank Portman appeared for the successful party, Justice Mohan D. Sharma of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found that it did not apply to clauses created before Oct. 25, 2021.
With respect to non-compete injunctions, our Toronto executive employment lawyers at Massey LLP say an executive is usually defending against one brought by their former employer asserting they breached an alleged obligation, either contractual or fiduciary, through their actions after they left the job. This is typically activity seen by that employer as competitive or misuse of business confidential information.
The way it works is the employer must launch an action asserting the executive is in breach of the obligations and then bring a motion asking for the court to issue an injunction, which is an order requiring the executive to stop the activity until trial or when the obligation allegedly being breached ends, explain our Toronto executive employment lawyers.
In effect, the injunction is the whole ball game. Few, once an injunction is requested, wind up going to trial and quietly settle on a costs basis, no matter what the result of the injunction request. But for an employer to get an injunction, a Toronto employment lawyer at Massey LLP knows they must have a strong prima facie case that:
- The employee is breaching an obligation.
- They must show “irreparable harm” would happen if the employee was not prohibited from engaging in the competitive activity.
- They must show that the balance of convenience favours the injunction.
A Toronto employment lawyer at Massey LLP says the court must be convinced the executive is giving the competitor an unfair leg up as opposed to any other competitor on the basis of the executive’s knowledge of the employer’s business/client base.
So, the most effective ways to defend one is:
- To attack the existence of the obligations, since very few employees are prohibited from moving to a competitor and most employers tend to overstate those obligations.
- To try and deflate the actual harm that the employer will suffer because of the executive leaving.