Toronto Employment Lawyers, Toronto Workplace Lawyers, Toronto Lawyers for Employers
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP warn that employers must assume these days that any employment termination will result in litigation. That’s why at the heart of how we handle employment law matters for employer clients is the protection of their interests by focusing on bullet-proof dismissal strategies and employment contracts.
Why do terminated employees sue so often now? Because they can, say our Toronto workplace lawyers. The ability of Ontario employment lawyers to work on a contingency fee basis under the Solicitors Act means almost any employee can be emboldened to bring a claim in the event they are dismissed since they will not be paying out-of-pocket.
That’s contrasted with an employer who will immediately need to start paying legal fees. So that difference in risk is a big part of why many employees, even with more questionable claims, can be advised to go through litigation, note our Toronto employment lawyers. This means employers must be proactive, work with us, and treat every dismissal as if it’s the opening salvo of litigation – starting with ensuring everything is documented, and a realistic game plan in terms of a severance offer is made.
Our Toronto lawyers for employers understand that an employer doesn’t have to be saddled forever with an employee who performs poorly. But there’s a right way to deal with it; employment law proceedings can be high-stakes, tricky, and riddled with misconceptions. Handling terminations, and the myriad of other possible employment law situations needs an experienced, steady hand at the helm to arrive at a favourable outcome, say our Toronto employment lawyers.
The Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP provide day-to-day employment and labour guidance for employers from all sizes of businesses, including preparation of employment contracts, advice on policy, dismissals, employee monitoring/expectations of privacy at work, and accommodations issues.
Our Toronto lawyers for employers are also highly skilled litigators in employment law for employers. Sometimes going to court just can’t be avoided, and we defend employer clients in wrongful dismissal claims, regulatory proceedings, and before administrative tribunals. To that end, our Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP appear on behalf of employers in the Ontario Court of Justice in prosecutions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and other workplace legislation.
Why your business should hire our Toronto lawyers for employers
The Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP stress that the foundation for every employment relationship should be the employment contract – for all employees, not just senior management. Our Toronto employment lawyers are experienced in crafting contracts for employers and know that a well-written one can dramatically reduce liability headaches down the road – they’re incredibly important and finicky.
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP are on top of the caselaw and know that McGuinty v. 1845035 Ontario Inc. (McGuinty Funeral Home) (2020) illustrates the importance of a solid contract. In the decision, an employee who by law could have received as little as 34 weeks of pay upon termination with a proper contract – and possibly just eight – instead was awarded nine years of pay by the court.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers note that contractual provisions limiting employee entitlements on termination have been under siege in the courts. The current law is that if there is a hypothetical situation where the contract could provide less to the employee than the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the termination provision is completely invalid.
Toronto lawyers for employers know the scrutiny is so extreme that contracts have been invalidated because of too-strong provisions concerning confidential information and conflicts of interest.
So, to get a good contract in place, you need to have someone intimately familiar with the nuances of the ESA, like the team of Toronto employment lawyers at Massey LLP. A general commercial lawyer will simply not have the experience to be able to do that reliably, and the consequences to employers can be severe.
In recent years the courts have tossed out employment contracts for example, in the case Waksdale v. Swegon North American Inc. (2020), so it’s more important than ever to have the team of Toronto employment lawyers at Massey LLP assist.
Further, our Toronto workplace lawyers say that increasingly, employers are being subject to regulatory prosecutions. This means that they are being charged with breaches of statutes like the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the ESA and can be the source of significant penalties and even jail time.
Under the OHSA, the maximum penalty is currently a $1,500,000.00 fine per offence for a corporation, and $500,000.00 and 12 months in jail. In fact, our Toronto lawyers for employers note a failure to implement a harassment policy can result in a fine for a director or officer of $1,500,000.00 plus 12 months in jail.
Toronto employment lawyers say these are extremely serious cases and need solid counsel. The issue is that they are prosecuted as quasi-criminal offences rather than as civil lawsuits meaning a huge difference in strategy as well as procedure. One such case that went to the Supreme Court of Canada is R. v. Greater Sudbury (City) (2019), with Frank Portman, our lead Toronto employment lawyer, co-trial counsel for the city.
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP also note that for employers the workplace is a minefield of human rights legislation that prevents discrimination against employees based on a number of criteria, and harassment claims. The value of these has been exploding in recent years, and increasingly are dealt with in court. General damages for serious acts of discrimination can exceed $100,000.00, and involve months, if not years of back pay. In one case, an employee was awarded 10 years of salary, so it’s best to involve our team of experienced Toronto workplace lawyers early.
This is another situation that needs to be handled properly before litigation is commenced, say the Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP. Managing a difficult disability or harassment situation is a very delicate process that needs to be handled correctly, or the penalties to employers could be enormous. The best litigation strategy is to begin building a defensive record as soon as an accommodation situation arises, being wary of the high potential for litigation.
Services of our Toronto employment lawyers for employers
The Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP advocate regularly for our employer clients in both employee and labour relations matters, crafting solid strategies to help cut through the complicated maze of regulations that govern the Ontario workplace.
Our Toronto employment lawyers offer a full suite of services, including:
Compliance with Ontario Employment Laws, Labour Laws, Safety Laws
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP understand that employers often don’t know all the many federal and provincial employment laws that govern their businesses and therefore risk not being fully compliant. Our team of Toronto workplace lawyers know that compliance is a vital component of solid HR. “Being unaware” is not a legal defence that the courts accept. We monitor evolving laws to help you develop policies that make you compliant, and provide reviews, representation of a complaint or charge, and guidance in an inspection.
Discipline and Dismissal Litigation
If there’s one thing our Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP stress, it’s that an employer’s relationship with their employees is a legal one. Yes, an employer is the boss and can make changes like cutting costs for the best of the business, but they can’t legally affect their employees unilaterally and fundamentally.
Constructive dismissal is defined as a change to a term of the employment relationship or contract, but it is one-sided, hitting the employee with no prior hint – and being substantial to qualify. That includes a more than 15 per cent pay change, demotion to a lower position, or a dramatic shift in the job description. Our team of Toronto workplace lawyers advises employers on how to make changes (or not) that avoid triggering claims from employees.
Dismissal for cause is another area our Toronto employment lawyers focus on for our employer clients; it’s a very high threshold and carries liability risks if not handled properly. We know Canadian caselaw has shown reluctance to find cause for dismissal, so it’s best to involve us from when the poor performance or misconduct is evident.
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP warn that preventing wrongful dismissal claims is another contentious area. Our lawyers assist in deciding if a dismissed employee should get a severance package, working notice, salary and benefit continuance, or a lump sum, and what notice or severance is entitled under the ESA.
The Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP are also skilled at determining when an employment contract is rendered impossible to enforce by an employee’s inability to work under the Frustrated Contracts Act (FCA). This is a sensitive area, and we advise clients on how not to tread on an employee’s privacy.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers assist employer clients in keeping up with the fast-changing privacy compliance obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), and the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA). The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) is the federal private-sector privacy law that sets out the rules for how a business must handle personal information. Our team of Toronto lawyers for employers also advises on how to implement new employee electronic monitoring requirements.
Regulatory Proceedings Before Administrative Tribunals
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP know that some of the laws and rules for businesses are not enforced by the courts but rather are regulated through administrative tribunals. We appear for employers before these disciplinary bodies regularly.
The Toronto workplace lawyers at Massey LLP note that workplace investigations have grown in importance in HR in recent years and for an employer not to investigate a claim can find them in legal hot water. We know what’s involved legally with investigations and counsel our employer clients as to when one is necessary and protect your business from liability. We also conduct Workplace Investigations .
Toronto lawyers for employers on meeting Ontario labour laws
Our Toronto lawyers for employers work with employers to provide them with solid guidance in labour relations strategies, policy development, representation at grievance arbitration proceedings before the Ontario Labour Relations Board, and other areas, to create a complete labour relations protocol.
The Toronto employment lawyers at Massey LLP explain that Canadian labour laws govern the relationship between an employer and unions under the Ontario Labour Relations Act (OLRA), and the Canada Labour Code (CLC).
Our team of Toronto lawyers for employers have experience with union rules and regulations and how they apply to our clients and their unionized employees. We help employers address:
- Annual leave
- Collective bargaining
- Labour strikes
- Labour-management relations
- Layoff process
- Unfair labour practices
- Union certification
- Union organization disputes
- Workplace health and safety
- Working hours
Our Toronto workplace lawyers advise employers on setting HR policies
Our Toronto employment lawyers explain that in recent years major amendments have been made to the ESA, and the OHSA. So, if your HR policies were created before the changes, you must update them.
Toronto workplace lawyers note among some of the new laws is Bill 27, the Working for Workers Act, 2021, which amends the ESA to require those employers with 25 or more employees to have a written “disconnecting from work” policy. The Bill also made non-compete agreements or clauses illegal for most employees, so contracts must be updated.
Further, Bill 88, the Working for Workers Act, 2022 amends the ESA and the OHSA to require employers with more than 25 workers to have a written electronic monitoring policy in place. Bill 88 also created an entirely new Act, the Digital Platform Workers’ Rights Act, which establishes rights and protections for workers who perform digital platform work.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers note HR policies required by law include:
The Toronto employment lawyers at Massey LLP add that there are other HR obligations including various workplace postings like, What you need to know about the ESA poster; Form 82 – In case of injury; contacts for the health and safety committee; the Health and safety at work poster; signage barring smoking and a copy of the ESA must be on the company website and available in the workplace.
Our Toronto workplace lawyers advise employers on other policies:
Health and safety
Workplace violence prevention
The Toronto lawyers for employers at Massey LLP note that employers with 100 or more employees must post a pay equity policy.