At Rodney Employment Law, we see things differently. As both lawyers and HR specialists, we are able to deliver legal solutions while recognizing there is a clear people-side to what we do. We help employees navigate complex matters by providing them with expert legal advice on all issues related to the workplace. Our employee clients are diverse and so are their legal issues so we focus on tailoring our approach to meet each clients’ needs. We always explain our service every step of the way and guide our clients through situations that are often tricky to understand.
As a business it is important to have proper agreements in place with employees as well as independent contractors. At Rodney Employment Law we regularly assist employers with drafting comprehensive solid and enforceable agreements. These agreements provide employers with the security in the event that the workplace relationship does not work out and flexibility to operate your business from a legal standpoint.
Employment Agreements can be complex and will typically provide businesses with significant protections. It is so important for individuals to have an employment agreement or independent contractor agreement properly reviewed by a legal professional. At Rodney Employment Law, we regularly assist employees and independent contractors with comprehensive reviews of their agreements. We ensure that our clients understand their rights and obligations and are clear on what they are signing off on. If you have been provided with any type of employment agreement or independent contractor agreement, contact us today to conduct a full and proper review and provide you with the ‘peace of mind’ you need to move forward. Remember – you should not sign any paperwork before seeking proper legal advice!
One of the most complex and challenging issues in today’s workplace is the classification or rather misclassification of an Independent Contractor or Employee. Individuals are often misclassified as Independent Contractors when they are actually employees at law. Companies that misclassify individuals could be liable for Wrongful Dismissal, Revenue Canada risks, and employment standards consequences. Are you currently engaged in an agreement as an “Independent Contractor”? If so, is the arrangement legitimate? The following are some of the factors considered by our courts to make that determination:
- Control: what is the level of control the company has over you?
- Tools and Equipment: who provides the tools and equipment?
- Financial risk: who bears the financial risk in the relationship?
- Investment: what is the degree of responsibility for investment and management?
- Profit: what is your opportunity for profit in providing the services?
We will work with you to review the level of control in the relationship along with other key factors to provide you with a proper assessment of your working relationship. We will also review your Independent Contractor Agreement to ensure that your rights down the road will be protected.
Aside from base salary and benefits there are often many aspects to a total compensation plan including bonus, incentive and equity programs. Employers will often include language to restrict an employees right to such programs and it is worthwhile to ensure that you are properly protected before signing off on any language.
Employers invariably try to restrict an employees’ ability to solicit clients and/or employees or prevent employees from working in a competitive business. These restrictions may be against public policy and/or not reasonable depending on the circumstances. It is recommended to have any restrictive covenants reviewed prior to signing off and in order to preserve your legal rights down the road.
Executive Level Employees
Executive and senior-level employment agreements typically have sophisticated contracts which require expert advice. Executives are regularly offered incentives in such as bonuses, commissions, long term incentive plans, and equity which can often form the bulk of total compensation and agreements often contain specialized language pertaining to restrictive covenants, severance and change-in-control clauses. With our combined HR and legal experience, we provide expert guidance on all aspects of executive employment agreements to ensure that they align closely with our client’s goals. We can assist with: Executive Compensation Negotiation, Employment Agreement Review, Restrictive Covenants, Severance Packages, Bonuses Incentive Plans & Commissions, and Golden Parachute Clauses.
Human Rights & Accommodation
In today’s workplace, employees need to be mindful that they are not treated differently or singled out because of personal characteristic such as race, sexual orientation, disability, family status, among other prohibited grounds of discrimination. Employees also need to be aware that their employer has a mandatory legal obligation to accommodate these personal characteristics when doing so would not result in undue hardship. This test for the duty to accommodate involves a high legal threshold and employees are encouraged to seek legal advice if they believe they are being accommodated. In addition to pro-actively assisting employees with the process for accommodation, we also provide representation at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Under the Human Rights Code, every person has the right to equal treatment and no one should be subject to any discrimination whatsoever. The following grounds of discrimination are protected under the Human Rights Code: Race; Ancestry; Place of origin; Colour; Creed (religion); Ethnic origin; Citizenship; Age; Sex/gender; Sexual orientation; Marital status; Family status; Disability; or Receipt of Public Assistance.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are being discriminated in the workplace and it cannot be resolved or the situation continues, you should seek legal advice on how to deal with all concerns, complaints, or incidents of workplace discrimination in a fair and timely manner.
In recent years there has been a rise in harassment and bullying in the workplace. Bullying can take the form of verbal, social or cyber bullying and can have significant implications for companies if it is not managed pro-actively. Under the Occupational Health and Safety act, employers have a mandatory legal obligation to ensure a harassment and violence free workplace and to take all reasonable steps to ensure their workers are safe in the workplace.
Employers have a mandatory legal obligation to ensure a harassment and violence free workplace and if you believe you are the victim of harassment and/or bullying, it is recommended that you speak to an Employment Lawyer to understand your rights and responsibilities. These situations can be emotional and challenging and our team is here to assist you as needed.
Accommodation requires a ‘reasonable’ not a ‘perfect’ solution. If an employer fails to fulfill their duty to make reasonable accommodation they could risk facing human rights violation. However, there are limitations to the accommodation. The limitation to the ‘Duty to Accommodate’ requires that the employer demonstrate that accommodation would result in undue hardship. Case law reflects that the duty to accommodate requires risk, cost, and creativity from all parties. You should seek legal advice from an employment lawyer to assist you in navigating this often challenging process.
Though we are skilled negotiators who are able to resolve most matters without resorting to litigation, we are also experts in employment law litigation with a wealth of experience in successfully representing clients at courts and tribunals. We conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis at each stage of litigation to ensure that our client’s interests are represented in an efficient and cost-effective manner. At Rodney Employment Law, we regularly advocate for our clients in Small Claims Court, Superior Court of Justice, Human Rights Tribunals, Ontario Labour Relations Board, and the Ministry of Labour. Our legal team has the expertise and knowledge to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome involving employment law disputes.
Performance Management & Discipline
Employers have the right to manage their business including, among other things, to impose performance management and/or discipline if required. In many cases, performance management and/or discipline may be imposed in a manner that is arbitrary, discriminatory, or done in bad faith and employees have the right to challenge performance management and/or discipline in these circumstances. If an employer is trying to performance management and/or impose discipline that you do not believe is fair, it is prudent to seek legal advice to understand your rights.
There are situations whereby an employer will try to place you on a Performance Improvement Plan (“PIP”) to provide you with a set of expectations along with a timeframe for you to improve your performance. In some cases, PIP’s are set out with unrealistic timeframes or objectives that cannot be practically achieved and in other cases, they are designed to set the stage for upcoming progressive discipline, up to and including, termination of employment. In a situation, where you have been the subject of a PIP that you do not believe is fair and/or reasonable in the circumstances, you should seek legal advice either to guide you behind the scenes or on the record.
Employers when imposing discipline are required to do so in a manner that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances. As well, employers need to ensure that progressive discipline is proportionate to the facts of the situation. In a situation, where you have been the subject of progressive discipline that you believe is unfair, unreasonable or disproportionate, it is prudent for you to consult with legal counsel to ensure that your rights are fully protected.
Termination & Severance
Work is one of the most important relationships in people’s lives, and the end of that relationship can be quite difficult and traumatic. If you are an employee who has recently been terminated, it is important to understand your rights and what you are owed in terms of severance. There are also situations where the working relationship does not always end with clarity. If you are an employee who has encountered significant changes in the terms and conditions of your position, you may be experiencing a ‘constructive dismissal.’ Our team regularly assists individuals who have been recently terminated or constructively dismissed. We help ensure that employees are not walking away without their full legal entitlement. Contact us today to discuss your termination and conduct a full and proper review of your severance package. Remember – you should not sign any paperwork before seeking proper legal advice!
Wrongful dismissals occur when an employer does not provide sufficient notice of termination to an employee, or a reasonable payment in lieu of notice. If you have been terminated and offered a severance package, do not sign anything before speaking to an employment lawyer at Rodney Employment Law. Our team is regularly sought out by employees from entry level to executive to provide consultation and advice on fair settlement packages. The amount of notice an employee is entitled to can vary greatly depending on a number of different factors such as your age, length of service, availability of similar employment or your position. Contact us today and we will work with you to determine a strategy to achieve a reasonable outcome.
A Constructive Dismissal occurs when an employer makes a unilateral change to the fundamental terms of an employee’s contract of employment and the employee does not agree to the changes and leaves his or her job. A unilateral change can occur as a result of compensation, position, or an intolerable work environment. At Rodney Employment Law we can assist you in seeking remedies for constructive dismissals as well as assisting you in navigating a constructive dismissal situation.