At Rodney Employment Law, we see things differently. With our extensive HR experience, we combine business perspective with a keen understanding of both employer and employee relationships to offer unique insights. We also take a customized approach with each of our clients to ensure we get optimal results based on their specific needs. We ensure our employer clients are equipped to handle workplace issues using innovative and cost-effective solutions. In short, we offer a practical and human approach to solving your legal issues.
Advisory Service & Strategy
One of the primary benefits of working with our legal team is our ability to provide strategic advice and counsel from both a legal perspective as well as a broader business lens.
When advising our employer clients, our approach is customized based on the individual needs of the business. Our strategy is client-focused and proactive – we strive to minimize risk for our clients by providing innovative and practical solutions. If a crisis situation erupts, we will be there in ‘real-time’ to ensure that it is controlled in the most efficient manner. However, our advice and strategic partnerships help our clients avoid these crises from the outset. As experienced employment lawyers and HR professionals, we are able to deliver legal solutions from a business perspective while recognizing there is a clear people-side to what we do.
In today’s competitive and changing business environment, employers are constantly evolving and looking for ways to improve operational efficiencies and/or the bottom line. We assist clients to navigate their operational changes in a way that causes the least amount of disruption, cost and risk. During a restructuring situation, the one constant is change, and how the change process is managed is often largely ignored. Whether a company is seeking to lay off staff, conduct a mass termination, eliminate a department or take more drastic steps such as a merger or acquisition, our legal team is available to provide strategic business and legal advice that is simple, cost-effective and practical.
The management of employees can be both challenging and complex and there is often no textbook approach to effectively resolving employee relations issues yet they remain a regular part of effectively running a business. We strive to help our clients navigate these sensitive situations. By providing ‘win-win’solutions that meet our client’s needs while addressing the concerns of their employees, our goal is to reduce risk and minimize disruption to our clients’ business. Our collective expertise in Human Resources contribute significantly to our legal approach, providing our clients with the right tools to tackle these issues head on.
Parties involved in a purchase and sale of a business should consider the compensation, benefits, and other liabilities their employees can have during the transaction. Both parties should consider Employment Law issues when conducting a business purchase and sale.
MaxPeople, our sister company, is a professional Human Resource consulting firm. Our strategic hands-on and innovative approach is what separates us from our competitors. Our HR team works with your organization both onsite and virtually to help your people be more focused, happier, and productive. From talent management to employee relations, we have you covered. We offer premium on-site and virtual HR services through our HRessentials services in addition to Employment Law support for businesses in need of an effective people strategy to grow their business.
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.
An Employment Agreement includes all the relevant terms and conditions that govern the working relationship with the employee. In drafting an Employment Agreement for your business, our team will ensure that there are proper provisions and unambiguous language in place to protect you from potential risks and claims. Case law has informed us that even one outdated or improperly worded provision may result in the entire agreement being rendered unenforceable. Above all else, one thing is for certain: an enforceable Employment Agreement could save you, as an employer, significant costs (both in terms of payouts and legal fees incurred) and liability down the road. If your business does not currently have agreements in place or if your employment agreements are outdated and in need of review, we are here to help.
We can assist your business in putting together a wide range of compensation and bonus plans for your staff. These plans can range from a simple sales plan to a complex bonus, incentive and equity plans. We will assist you in simplifying these types of agreements while ensuring that you are fully protected and have a high level of flexibility. Helping you find creative and attractive options to ensure that you are hiring the very best talent is critical in this competitive market.
It is important for employers to understand that restrictive covenants need to be in place to protect employers from situations where employees pursue clients and/or colleagues following the end of their employment. Having proper limitations in place can help prevent these types of situations. We can help you draft restrictive covenants such as non-solicitation, confidentiality, and even non-compete that the court will agree to enforce. We will also represent you in the event that a former employee breaches their obligation(s) to you.
One of the most complex and challenging issues in today’s workplace is the classification, or rather misclassification, of an Independent Contractor or Employee. Employers misclassifying employees as Independent Contractors should understand the risks that come along with that, including the risk of Wrongful Dismissal, Revenue Canada risks, and potential liability under employment standards. Are you currently engaged in an agreement with 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 the worker?
- 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 the worker’s opportunity for profit in providing the services?
We will work with your business 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 then assist you in putting together proper, well-written agreements which could save your company from significant potential liability down the road.
Human Rights & Accommodation
Employers are often challenged by evolving Human Rights legislation, case law, and the duty to accommodate. We strive to continuously educate our employer clients by providing them with the tools they need to effectively and proactively manage these sensitive issues in the workplace. Our advice is practical and strategic. We help employers understand their obligations in terms of the legislative framework so they can handle human rights issues that arise in their workplaces in the best way possible.
The accommodation process can be very tricky. As such, it is important that employers understand their obligations and manage the accommodation process accordingly. We guide our employer clients through this process every step of the way, ensuring that they meet their legal obligations while effectively managing the needs of their business. We also assist our clients when facing challenges associated with the accommodation of employees in the workplace. Our clients are provided with practical and cost effective solutions that are customized for their business and the particular employee situation to ensure compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code while keeping the business on track. We also provide assistance in the development and implementation of customized policies and procedures surrounding accommodation along with designing interactive training modules with case scenarios and simulations to ensure that our clients and their staff understand their expectations in these situations.
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 properly. 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 and their management staff is appropriately trained and competent to deal with these issues. We provide assistance in the development and implementation of customized policies and procedures surrounding bullying and harassment along with interactive training modules to ensure staff at all levels understand their expectations in these situations.
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. We work closely with our employer clients to ensure that they have the tools and knowledge about how to effectively prevent human rights issues in their workplace. Our advice and guidance includes policy and procedure development and ongoing coaching and training with user-friendly toolkits and our objective is to ensure that our clients have the confidence and peace of mind to deal with issues of discrimination should they arise.
Under the applicable workplace legislation in Ontario, there are several compliance related policies and programs that are mandatory for your business. These compliance related policies and programs include written documentation along with required training for staff. We regularly customize and design policies while reflecting the needs of your business. By ensuring that your business is legally compliant, you will achieve a dual outcome – mitigating risk as well as demonstrating effective business practice.
Regardless of the size of your business – whether you have 5 or 500 employees, updated policies can assist in communicating the link between your organization’s culture, mission and values and drive consistent client service, work habits, and organizational objectives. We will assist you in preparing customized policies that are not only required by law but also, tailored to fit the specific needs of your workplace. These policies may be prepared on a standalone basis or consolidated into a comprehensive Employee Handbook.
Our team can assist you in ensuring that you are fully compliant in all workplace legislation including Health and Safety. Every worker employee must protect his or her own health and safety by working in compliance with the law and with safe work practices and procedures. It is in the best interest of all parties to consider health and safety in every activity and to have an effective policy and program in place to outline your commitment to health and safety.
It is prudent for organizations to have a customized a handbook for their employees. We can tailor policies, procedures, and guidelines that will not only outline expectations for your staff but it can also protect your business against potential claims such as harassment and discrimination or wrongful dismissal. At Rodney Employment Law we will ensure that your Employee Handbook has clear and concise language and also provides a roadmap to ensure fair and equitable treatment of your employees. We will also provide a customized training session to ensure your employees understand their rights and responsibilities.
Workplace Training is essential to ensure that your business is compliant and that your staff is engaged. We offer customized training programs on a wide range of workplace issues, including Employment Law fundamentals, conflict management, respect in the workplace, occupational health and safety, and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Our training solutions are innovative, practical and tailored to suit the needs of each specific client. As lawyers and HR specialists, we understand the importance of training and we work together with our clients to reach the most optimal solutions.
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.
Termination & Severance
The employment relationship is complex and can be complicated to manage. As employers, you need to efficiently manage your operations and you may face situations where you need to terminate an employee or multiple employees for a variety of reasons. At Rodney Employment Law, we assist employers in navigating these difficult situations in the most effective and efficient manner to mitigate risk to the business. If you are an employer who is looking to terminate staff, it is important to understand your legal obligations and the best way to navigate the situation. There are also situations where the working relationship does not always end with clarity. If you are an employer who is facing a claim for ‘constructive dismissal’, we can help. Our team regularly assists employers looking to restructure or end employment relationships with their staff. We help ensure that these challenging situations are handled properly and that our clients’ risk is mitigated. Contact us today to discuss your potential terminations and learn more about how we can help.
Following proper termination protocol is important. For example, employers should always prepare and practice a termination letter, script and logistics of the termination meeting. Employers should not veer off course and keep termination meetings brief. If not done properly, terminations can be costly for employers. When employers are informed of the risks involved and seek proper legal advice they can minimize the risks involved. It is critical to have a comprehensive termination plan and we always recommend that employers act in good faith and part ways respectfully, professionally while maintaining an employee’s dignity.
We can assist Employers to mitigate their risk against a potential constructive dismissal complaint under the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) or under common law. 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/or decides to leave his or her job. Employers can take pro-active steps to protect themselves from Constructive Dismissal cases and it is prudent to obtain advice before implementing any changes to help ensure smooth transitions and minimize and potential risks.
Wrongful dismissals occur when an employer does not provide sufficient notice of termination to an employee, or a reasonable payment in lieu of notice. In the absence of having a valid and enforceable Employment Agreement, 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, or your position and availability of finding similar employment. Employees that are dismissed may initiate wrongful dismissal claims and can also seek additional damages against their Employers. It is recommended to speak to an employment lawyer to try to settle any disputes to minimize the risks involved for any potential claims.
Workplace Audits & Investigations
We regularly conduct workplace investigations on behalf of employers. We understand the importance of lawful and compliant workplace investigations. We help our employer clients handle complaints properly and take the necessary steps to protect them from any potential risks. Our clients understand that the choice of the investigator and the conduct of the investigation play a critical part in protecting against any future liability. We assist employers by conducting workplace investigations on their behalf, providing them with expert advice on how to conduct proper investigations, and training them on the execution of a comprehensive investigation. As lawyers and HR specialists, workplace investigations are an integral part of what we do.
Prior to a workplace audit/investigation commencing, we will work with our clients to ensure they understand the framework for the audit/investigation including the estimated time involved, the number of parties involved, the documents needed for the process and the overall scope of the work. While audits/investigations often may be unpredictable, we make every effort to ensure seamless communication with our clients throughout these initial stages.
Once the audit/investigation has commenced, we work with our clients to ensure that the process is completed with a high degree of thoroughness and on a timely basis. We will inform our clients of any obstacles that may delay the completion and we ensure there are contingency plans in place to minimize these obstacles. Throughout the audit/investigation process, we will keep our clients informed.
Upon the completion of the audit/investigation, we will complete a confidential audit/investigation report that may or may not be protected by privilege depending on the circumstances of the case. We will work with our clients to ensure that only the contents of the report that need to be disclosed will be in keeping with our obligations to our client as well as the legislative requirements. We will also provide recommendations for our clients to action post the results of the audit/investigation to ensure that they fulfilling their due diligence obligations from a legal perspective.