Nadine has years of experience advising on the following issues in employment law in the context of litigation matters and corporate transactions while working at leading Bay Street law firms and as in-house counsel at prominent organizations.
Nadine was also a contributing author to the book titled “How to Conduct Workplace Investigations”, published by Thomson Reuters.
Nadine has conducted various training and educational seminars to assist employers in understanding their obligations under Canadian employment law.
A wrongful dismissal occurs when an employee’s employment is been terminated without cause and without reasonable notice of termination. When this occurs, the employee may be entitled to damages based on the employer’s failure to provide reasonable notice of termination.
A constructive dismissal occurs when an employee’s employment has not been terminated outright. However, due to the significant changes to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment, the employee’s employment as he or she once knew it, has effectively been terminated.
An unjust dismissal occurs when an employee of a federally-regulated undertaking dismisses an employee without cause. Federally-regulated undertakings include airlines, banks and telecommunications companies. Most employees who have been unjustly dismissed can file a complaint within 90 days and claim back pay and reinstatement, in addition to bringing a civil action in court.
Breach of contract
A breach of contract in employment law occurs when an employer breaches the implied or express terms of an employee’s employment agreement, regardless whether the agreement was in writing or verbal. An employer can be liable for damages for breaches of an employee’s employment agreement.
Mass terminations & workplace restructurings
Mass employment terminations and workplace restructurings can raise additional legal obligations and liability exposure that are not present when dealing with individual terminations. As such, employers must exercise care to ensure their more onerous legal obligations are met in the context of mass terminations and workplace restructurings.
Human rights complaints & investigations – accommodation, discrimination & harassment
Employees have human rights protections prohibit discrimination and harassment at work on recognized grounds, such as age, sex, pregnancy and disability. Employers must comply with human rights laws and conduct human rights investigations in accordance with the law; otherwise, they may be liable for damages.
Employment standards laws
Employment standards laws set out the minimum protections afforded to employees in the workplace, such as minimum wage, minimum notice of termination, severance pay and holiday pay. Employment standards laws also set out various recognized leaves of absence that are protected by the right to reinstatement, such as pregnancy leave, parental leave, compassionate care leave, sick leave and emergency leave. Employees whose employment standards rights have been infringed can bring a complaint against their employer within specified time limits.
Non-competition & non-solicitation agreements
Non-competition and non-solicitation agreements can greatly impede a former employee’s ability to compete against his or her former employer or solicit the former employers’ customers and employees. Unless these agreements are carefully drafted, they may not be enforceable. To learn more about non-competition agreements, see Non-Competition Agreements: Avoid the Enforcement Pitfalls in A Director’s Guide to Executive Compensation Vol. 5, No. 1 | March 2010.
Certain employees owe fiduciary duties to their employer during their employment and for a reasonable period of time following their employment, regardless of whether they are bound by written non-competition or non-solicitation agreements. Often, very senior level employees and employees in positions to develop special customer relationships are held to be fiduciaries. Employees who are fiduciaries generally cannot usurp for their own benefit an opportunity they were working on for their employer. To learn more about fiduciary duties, see Fiduciary Duties: What are They and Why do They Matter? in A Director’s Guide to Executive Compensation Vol. 5, No. 2 | June 2010.
Employee or contractor
Work arrangements can be structured in various ways, including as employment or contractor arrangements. There are consequences to each form of arrangement, such as payroll remittances and workplace compliance requirements for employees. Also, contractors may not have the rights and obligations that are implied into employment arrangements, unless they are expressly stated in a contract. Companies and workers should ensure that their form of work arrangement can be supported in law; otherwise, they may risk liability exposure.
Employers should ensure they understand when they need to conduct a workplace investigation and how it should be conducted. Failing to conduct a workplace investigation or improperly conducting a workplace investigation can expose an employer to liability.
Managing employee attendance and implementing measures to improve employee attendance must be handled with care. Disability and accommodation concerns often come to the forefront when managing employee attendance.
Disability accommodation & accessibility
Employers may have an obligation to accommodate employees with disabilities pursuant to human rights laws. Also, employers in Ontario must comply with their obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, commonly referred to as the “AODA”.
There are various privacy laws across Canada that deal with employee personal information in varying degrees. Employers need to ensure that they understand their privacy law obligations and respect employees’ privacy rights.
Employers must ensure they are registered with the applicable provincial workers’ compensation board, unless they are exempt from registration. Once registered, employers have to remit workers’ compensation premiums. Employees who suffer an illness or injury in the workplace may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, but may be barred from suing their employer.
Workplace compliance audits
There are several statutes and regulations governing the workplace. A workplace compliance audit is a means by which employers can assess their compliance with employment related laws and obtain recommendations to improve compliance or achieve best practice standards.