Employment Law

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Employment Law


Practice Areas

  • Employment Law
  • Defending the Company
  • Representing the Company
  • Employment Contracts
  • Human Rights Claims
  • Severance Package Review
  • Constructive Dismissal & Poisoned Workplace
  • Wrongful Dismissal

Employment Law

Crangle is an experienced trial lawyer that has represented both employers and employees with respect to employment law issues across a wide spectrum of industries, including large companies, small companies, privately held companies and public companies. Employment law applies to all industries, but some industries have unique characteristics where the law may be different.

Regardless of the industry, employees are often asked to sign an Employment Contract before they get hired, or sometimes after they are working there. Employers may also ask an employee to sign an agreement containing a Non-Competition clause or a Non-Solicitation clause. These are called “restrictive covenants” and can have serious consequences. They can inhibit and employees ability to work in the future should they be laid off. Or perhaps you have already been laid off and want to know if you can get around these types of agreements. Sometimes these agreements are not enforceable because they are overly broad or vague and considered by the court to be an unfair restraint upon trade, preventing you from earning a living in the field that you are trained and experienced in.

You need a trial lawyer with experience dealing with the all areas of employment law, whether you are a company or an employee that has been wrongfully dismissed, constructively dismissed, laid off, harassed or discriminated against. Sometimes an employee may be entitled to more severance than what is stated in their Employment Contract. This evolving area of law requires a attorney that can explain things clearly for you.

If you are an Employer in Toronto, then you need to make sure that your Employment Contracts are up to date and enforceable. Employment Contracts that were once enforceable may not be enforceable now because the law has evolved, which is why an employer needs to periodically update its employment contracts. Even large companies often have outdated and unenforceable employment contracts. This puts the company at risk to having to pay larger severance packages than it expected.

With respect to employee performance issues, a company should document performance issues by providing warning letters that clearly set out the issues and what needs to be improved upon, failing which the Company may discipline the employee up to and including termination. Unless it is a serious transgression, employers are expected to provide at least several warning letters before it has grounds to terminate an employee for just cause. Failure to do so could prejudice the company in the future.

Employers also need to know how to protect themselves against discrimination claims. Crangle can help to minimize an Employer’s legal exposure with presice advice.

Defending the Company

Crangle also advises companies on ways that they can protect themselves from lawsuits started by employees. Employment contract review is a good place to start. What was enforceable 10 or 15 years ago may not be enforceable now. That can leave the company very vulnerable if it has a lot of senior employees. Crangle can review and revise your employment contracts to make the company less vulnerable.

Many companies also make the mistake of asking existing employees to sign a new employment contract. This may happen when the employee gets moved to a different position within the company or if the company realized that the employee is not required to sign an employment contract in the first place. It is also common when a company is sold, that the new owner will want all the employees to sign new employment contracts. There are right ways and wrong ways of asking an existing employee to sign a new employment contract. The new employment contract must give what is known as “consideration”, which is a benefit of some kind to the employee for signing it. If the new contract takes away some right that the employee previously enjoyed, without giving a new benefit to the employee, then the court will likely find that the new contract is unenforceable. If the contract is unenforceable, then common-law severance will apply.

If a company has an employee that complained about being harassed, then the company must take proper steps to conduct a full and fair investigation by taking it seriously and interviewing all the interested parties. Failure to handle this properly may expose the company to liability.

Discrimination complaints under the Human Rights Code are also becoming more common. No company would want to be found to have engaged in discriminatory practices. If a complaint is made to the tribunal and there is a hearing, the decision will be on the Internet. This is not good for the reputation of the company and therefore steps should be taken to put best practices in place to prevent a complaint, and to respond to one properly when there is one.

Crangle also represents companies charged under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Whatever your legal needs are, contract Crangle for a free consultation.

Representing the Company

Crangle also advises companies on ways that they can protect themselves from lawsuits started by employees. Employment contract review is a good place to start. What was enforceable 10 or 15 years ago may not be enforceable now. That can leave the company very vulnerable if it has a lot of senior employees. Crangle can review and revise your employment contracts to make the company less vulnerable.

Many companies also make the mistake of asking existing employees to sign a new employment contract. This may happen when the employee gets moved to a different position within the company or if the company realized that the employee is not required to sign an employment contract in the first place. It is also common when a company is sold, that the new owner will want all the employees to sign new employment contracts. There are right ways and wrong ways of asking an existing employee to sign a new employment contract. The new employment contract must give what is known as “consideration”, which is a benefit of some kind to the employee for signing it. If the new contract takes away some right that the employee previously enjoyed, without giving a new benefit to the employee, then the court will likely find that the new contract is unenforceable. If the contract is unenforceable, then common-law severance will apply.

If a company has an employee that complained about being harassed, then the company must take proper steps to conduct a full and fair investigation by taking it seriously and interviewing all the interested parties. Failure to handle this properly may expose the company to liability.

Discrimination complaints under the Human Rights Code are also becoming more common. No company would want to be found to have engaged in discriminatory practices. If a complaint is made to the tribunal and there is a hearing, the decision will be on the Internet. This is not good for the reputation of the company and therefore steps should be taken to put best practices in place to prevent a complaint, and to respond to one properly when there is one.

Crangle also represents companies charged under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Whatever your legal needs are, contract Crangle for a free consultation.

Employment Contracts

For a company, it is essential to have enforceable employment contracts to avoid future liability. For an employee, you may want to find out if an employment contract is enforceable or what the ramifications are if you signed one.

It is common for Crangle to be asked to review an employment contract that was signed 10 or more years ago. Often these contracts are unenforceable because the law that they relied upon is outdated. This even applies large companies that hired one of the big law firms to draft their employment agreements. Employment law changes over time, like other areas of the law. If the company has not updated their employment contracts then they could be unenforceable. One area that often leads to a contract being unenforceable is with respect to non-competition clauses and non-solicitation clauses. These types of clauses are known as “restrictive covenants”.

Generally speaking, courts do not like to enforce agreements that contain a non-competition clause because they are considered to be an unreasonable restraint upon trade. These clauses are designed to prevent a departing employee from working in the area in which they have both experience and training. This means that the departing employee cannot make a living in his or her field, and so the courts will often strike out the whole employment agreement. On the other hand, these clauses may be enforceable if the restriction is for a very limited period of time, such as 12 months, and only if the restriction is with respect to a very limited geographical distance. For example, if the non-competition clause states that you cannot work for any competitor within 50 km, that may not be enforceable because it too large a geographical area. If the limitation is only 3 kilometers for instance, then a better argument can be made that it is enforceable.

Employment agreements containing non-solicitation clauses are more likely to be enforceable if they are very well drafted. These clauses should be for a very limited period of time, such as 12 months, and only apply to not soliciting clients that the departing employee came to know of and deal with through his or her employment at the company. This means that the departing employee can contact and do business with other clients. A common area of contention is when a client finds out where the former employee is working and follows them to the new company.

Contact Crangle whether you are a departing employee wanting to obtain an opinion about the enforceability of a contract, or a company that wants to update its employment contracts to increase their chances of enforceability are greater.

Human Rights Claims

Have you been discriminated against or harassed based on your race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, family status, genetic characteristics or disability? Or are you a company that is defending a complaint at the Ontario or Canadian Human Rights Tribunal? This area of law is constantly evolving, as are societal norms.

If you have been discriminated against, then you have a choice to file a claim in either a Human Rights Tribunal or in a court at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. There are pros and cons to each. At the tribunal, it can award more damages than a court in certain cases. If you were discriminated at the workplace, you should know that at the tribunal, you can claim damages for both discrimination as well as damages for severance pay (due to a poisoned workplace environment for instance). However, you must prove that you have been discriminated against if you file your claim at the tribunal. If you fail to do that, then you will not be entitled to any damages or severance pay. In a court, if your claim is based on discrimination at the workplace, and being laid off or unjustly terminated, you do not necessarily have to prove discrimination in order to get damages for severance.

Unlike in a court, the tribunal does not require the loser to play the winner’s legal fees. This may make filing your complaint at the tribunal less risky because if you lose, you do not have to pay the other side’s legal fees.

Most human rights cases in Ontario are filed at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. If your complaint is against a company that is federally regulated, such as aviation or transportation, then you file your complaint in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. In both tribunals, the parties are encouraged to participate in mediation prior to the trial.

Call or email for a free consultation to find out if you have a legal case, and if so, how much you may be entitled to. Contingency fee arrangements may be available in appropriate cases so that you do not have to worry about paying legal fees to your lawyer.

Severance Package Review

If you have been offered a severance package due restructuring or lay off, Crangle can review it and advise if you may be entitled to more. The severance offer may be made pursuant to an employment contract that you signed. However, the employment contract may not be enforceable and you could be entitled to more severance than stated in the contract.

If you did not sign an employment contract, or if the employment contract that you signed is unenforceable, then you will be entitled to notice / severance under the common law. The common law means cases that were similar to your situation.

Under the common law, how much severance you are entitled to depends on a number of factors such as your age, your education level, you workplace experience, the availability of comparable alternative employment, among other things. People often think that they are entitled to one month of severance per year of their employment. For example, if you were employed for 9 years, you would receive 9 months severance. However, there is actually no “rule of thumb” with respect to severance. There is usually a range with respect to how much severance pay someone is entitled to. The range for an employee terminated after 9 years could be from as little as 5 months on the lower end to 14 months severance on the higher end. A person that is 35 years old with an MBA and terrific reemployment prospects, would be in the lower range of severance. A person who is 64 years old with no postsecondary education, would be entitled to the higher end of the range. Further, if you were induced to leave previous employment to join the company you just got terminated from, then the court will consider that when determining your severance entitlement.

Although there is not an exact formula to determine your legal entitlement under the common law, Crangle can help maximize your entitlement. Flexible rates or a contingency agreement may be an option to avoid upfront legal fees.

Call or email for a free consultation to find out if you have a legal case, and if so, how much you may be entitled to. Contingency fee arrangements may be available in appropriate cases so that you do not have to worry about paying legal fees to your lawyer.

Constructive Dismissal & Poisoned Workplace

Constructive dismissal is when the company reduces your pay and/or workplace responsibilities. The change has to be significant, not minor. If you were demoted and had your pay cut, then you may have a case for constructive dismissal. You need to express your disapproval of the changes to the company, and not merely accept the changes silently. If you fail to express yourself then the company could argue that you accepted the changes.

A poisoned workplace environment is also considered constructive dismissal, since you may be unable to continue working there as a result. There can be many reasons why you feel the workplace environment is poisoned, such as bullying, discrimination, harassment, etc. If there is a poisoned workplace environment such that you feel unable to continue, then you may be able to claim constructive dismissal.

In either of the above examples, you may be entitled to severance pay the same you would be as if you were wrongfully dismissed. The court does not distinguish between wrongful dismissal and constructive dismissal when determining the amount of notice / severance you may be entitled to.

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum amount of notice and severance that you should receive. Even if you did sign an employment contract, it may be unenforceable. If you did not sign an employment contract, or if the one you signed is unenforceable, then you will be entitled to notice / severance under the “common law”. The common law means case law precedents that were decided in a court.

Under the common law, how much severance you are entitled to depends on a number of factors such as your age, your education level, you workplace experience, the availability of comparable alternative employment, among other things. People often think that they are entitled to one month of severance per year of their employment. For example, if you were employed for 9 years, you would receive 9 months severance. However, there is actually no “rule of thumb” with respect to severance. There is usually a range with respect to how much severance pay someone is entitled to. The range for an employee terminated after 9 years could be as little as 5 months on the lower end to 14 months severance on the higher end for example. A person that is 35 years old with an MBA and terrific reemployment prospects, would be in the lower range of severance. A person who is 64 years old with no postsecondary education, would likely be in the higher end of the range. Further, if you were induced to leave previous employment to join the company that you just got terminated from, then the court will consider that when determining how much notice / severance you are entitled to.

Although there is not an exact formula to determine your legal entitlement under the common law, Crangle can help maximize your entitlement. Flexible rates or a contingency agreement may be an option to avoid upfront legal fees.

Call or email for a free consultation to find out if you have a legal case, and if so, how much you may be entitled to. Contingency fee arrangements may be available in appropriate cases so that you do not have to worry about paying legal fees to your lawyer.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful dismissal is when you have been unjustly terminated / fired. For a company to successfully argue just cause dismissal, it usually has to provide you with at least a few written warning letters first that set out the reasons why it was not pleased with your performance. An employee should then have a reasonably opportunity to address those issues to improve the performance issues. This is particularly the case with respect to a long-term employee who has a history of positive performance reviews.

Sometimes a company may want to terminate an employee improperly because they think that an employee is being paid too much, and they want to get rid of them. This often happens with long-term employees who can be replaced cheaper by someone younger. The company may allege bogus performance issues in warning letters in order to try to build a case for just cause dismissal. Crangle has successfully defended senior long-term employees in that situation.

A company that accuses an employee of doing something seriously wrong, such as theft or harassment for example, may have grounds for just cause termination. However, this is not always the case and the court has made exceptions where it was held that the company did not have grounds for just cause dismissal. If an allegation of impropriety is made against an employee, a company still has a duty to conduct a fair investigation into the allegations and inform the employee about it. The employee should have an opportunity to respond to those allegations. If the company terminates the employee without performing a fair investigation, then the employee may have grounds to allege a wrongful dismissal.

There are two ways to determine how much severance you will be entitled to.

In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act sets out the minimum amount of notice and severance that you should receive, whether you signed an employment contract or not. If you signed an employment contract, but it is not unenforceable for whatever reason, or if you did not sign one in the first place, then you are entitled to notice / severance under the “common law”. The common law means case law precedents that were decided in a court.

Under the common law, how much severance you are entitled to depends on a number of factors such as your age, your education level, you workplace experience, the availability of comparable alternative employment, among other things. People often think that they are entitled to one month of severance per year of their employment. For example, if you were employed for 9 years, then you would receive 9 months severance. However, there is actually no “rule of thumb” under the common law with respect to severance. There is usually a range with respect to how much severance pay someone is entitled to. The range for an employee terminated after 9 years could be from as little as 5 months on the lower end to 14 months severance on the higher end. A person that is 35 years old with an MBA and terrific reemployment prospects would be in the lower range of severance. A person who is 64 years old with no postsecondary education, would likely be on the higher end of the range. Further, if you were induced to leave previous employment to join the company you just got terminated from, then the court will consider that as well and add it to the length of time for which you were considered to be employed by the company.

Although there is not an exact formula to determine your legal entitlement under the common law, Crangle can help maximize your entitlement. Flexible rates or a contingency agreement may be an option to avoid upfront legal fees.

Call or email for a free consultation to find out if you have a legal case, and if so, how much you may be entitled to. Contingency fee arrangements may be available in appropriate cases so that you do not have to worry about paying legal fees to your lawyer.

Testimonial


I have used Aaron Crangle’s legal services for over ten years. He has done excellent work in the areas of litigation, as well as employment law for me personally and my companies. He answers all of my questions with thoughtfulness about how it will impact me and my employees. One thing that stands out for me is how accessible Mr. Crangle is. He either answers his phone or gets back to me quickly. This responsiveness has saved me many hours of stress!

Dr. A – Dentist, owner of dental clinics

Crangle obtained an incredible settlement for me, and it happened much faster than I expected. I highly recommend him.

Graeme, business owner

Crangle fought hard and got me a great settlement. I am so thankful forall the work he did for me

Jeff H

About Aaron Crangle


Mr. Aaron Crangle has been a member of the Ontario Bar since 2000. He has been practising in all areas of corporate law and litigation. Extensive experience in employment law, civil litigation, personal injury, contract, collections, human rights, regulatory, tribunals, transportation law, labour, etc.

Successfully argued in the Court of Appeal and all levels of Superior Court. Repeat panelist at the Ontario Bar Association.

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