Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Despite its youth, social media has quickly become a powerful force in marketing.  Sharing opinions, services, products, and announcements via social media gives you the opportunity to reach a large audience with relative ease.  Yet, there are certainly major pitfalls to putting social media to work – and without careful planning, social media can ultimately be more of a threat than a benefit to your business.  So, when it comes to your social media activities, let’s take a look at some of the more serious social media mistakes to avoid.

Offensive or Obscene Content

Since social media messages tend to be short and they are distributed quickly, many companies make the mistake of not carefully crafting that message.  Social media is fast and cheap, but it can still have a major impact.  When you think about the time and energy you devote to developing traditional forms of media such as print or video, you probably think about the cost of the media and the ultimate value it may bring.  When it comes to social media, one huge mistake is to post or share a message without considering its impact.  It’s even more important to know your audience with social media because of the possibility that an offensive or obscene message can go viral.  Remember, your message is likely to be shared outside your target market, and this can both negatively and positively affect your business.

Giving Advice

Social media is interactive – your employees can use social media to communicate with your clients in real time which is one of the most powerful and influential aspects of this new form of outreach.  However, because social media can be delivered in real time, your control over the message is diluted.  It is never advisable to allow your staff to give customers advice over social media – questions about your product or service should be directed to an appropriate representative.  This will allow you to maintain a consistent marketing message without contributing to false or inaccurate information about your business.  After all, in an online world, these messages can be almost impossible to reverse.

Responding to Criticism

Not all customers are going to be happy. Even your competitors may take to criticizing you online.  While it’s appropriate to respond to criticism via social media, you want to be measured in your response.  If you employ a staff to manage your social media presence, make sure that they know they should never respond to criticisms or negative comments on official social media pages for your business.  Instead, employ a social media manager to professionally and appropriately deal with criticisms so that you can maintain a consistent message and so that accurate information is shared online.

Former top cop’s new job investigating abuse in hockey provokes unease

Labour Rights Law

Retired RCMP deputy commissioner Craig Callens has been hired to review allegations of abuse in the WHL (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Retired deputy commissioner Craig Callens hired by WHL to review allegations from former players.

In a lawsuit filed last year, Cpl. Jill Swann alleges her boss called her “meth face,” mocked her weight gain and drew a target symbol on her body armour — and claims it all happened under the watch of B.C.’s former top Mountie.

Swann’s claims that deputy RCMP commissioner Craig Callens “failed, refused or neglected his duties” to address the alleged harassment from her supervisor on Vancouver Island are laid out in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court last summer. Callens has yet to file a response to Swann’s claim, and none of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court.

Swann’s lawyer, Sebastien Anderson, said he was shocked to learn that Callens had been hired to investigate allegations of abuse and exploitation in junior hockey.

“When he was commanding officer of E Division, he did very little to address serious allegations of workplace abuse … and that abuse continued for the duration of his command before he retired,” Anderson told CBC News, referring to allegations in Swann’s lawsuit.

He said Swann isn’t able to comment directly because she remains an officer in the RCMP and is bound by the force’s code of conduct.

Abuse claims in WHL

Callens retired last year after serving more than five years as the commanding officer for E Division, which covers all of B.C.

Last month, Western Hockey League commissioner Ron Robison confirmed in an email that the league had hired Callens to conduct an investigation into claims that former players had been mistreated by their teams.

WHL commissioner Ron Robison

WHL commissioner Ron Robison explained Callens’ new role in an email: “When two former players and a parent made allegations against certain WHL Clubs, we took steps to create a review.” (CBC)

Reached by phone in April, Callens said he would not comment on his new role or the allegations levelled against him by Anderson and in Swann’s lawsuit.

In a text message, Callens wrote: “As you would know, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to respond to questions regarding the Swann matter as it is before the courts.”

The news of Callens’ new job isn’t sitting well with a pair of past and present Mounties who allege they were mistreated by fellow officers. The issue of harassment and abuse of female officers and civilian employees has dogged the RCMP in recent years.

One year ago, a federal court judge approved an unprecedented class-action settlement that could cover as many as 20,000 women who were sexually harassed while working for the RCMP over the last four decades. Compensation has been set at between $10,000 and $220,000 per woman.

‘It destroyed my entire life’

Among those filing for compensation through the class-action settlement is former B.C. RCMP spokesperson Catherine Galliford, who was the first high-profile Mountie to bring a sexual harassment suit against the force.

Word of Callens’ new job came as a shock to her as well.

“When I see him investigating harassment and abuse and negligence in the WHL, I become angry, and you can quote me on that,” Galliford told CBC News.

Catherine Galliford settled a lawsuit against the RCMP in 2016.

Catherine Galliford settled a lawsuit against the RCMP in 2016.

Though Callens wasn’t named as a defendant in Galliford’s lawsuit, he was the commanding officer when she filed her claim in 2012. She says she suffered while the force fought her claim for four years before settling in 2016.

CBC has no indication Callens was inconsiderate of her alleged situation.

“What the media and the public don’t really understand is that we went through all of that harassment in the workplace, but it’s when we complained about it … all of a sudden we became the horrible people — we were the whistleblowers,” she said.

“It destroyed my entire life, and this was under Craig Callens’ watch.”

She detailed some of her experiences in a letter to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale two years ago, describing being questioned by RCMP lawyers during repeated examinations for discovery.

She said she was asked about her sex life, high school boyfriends, her childhood and whether she’d had her uniforms altered to make them tighter.

In response to Galliford’s concerns, Callens declined to comment in detail, writing: “The Galliford matter was concluded some time ago and the decision maker on that case was the Commissioner.”

The RCMP commissioner at the time was Bob Paulson, who also retired last year.

Robison, the WHL commissioner, declined through a spokesperson to comment on the allegations levelled by Swan and Galliford.

 

What to Do if You are Laid Off

 

Life can be stressful sometimes, and one of the most stressful events anyone can experience is the loss of a job.  When people get laid off they can be overwhelmed by financial worries, anxiety about job searches and interviews, or even how to break the news to their loved ones.  Still, optimism can be a great way to stay motivated – if you have been laid off, show compassion for yourself and be proactive in your search for new employment.  Remember, getting laid off likely has nothing to do with your work performance or skill set, and ultimately the experience may offer new opportunities you’d never before considered.  So, what should you do if you are laid off?

Get Organized

Legally, your employer is required to provide written notice of a layoff or financial compensation in lieu of notice.  Either way, you should have some time to get yourself organized for what comes next.  Depending on your length of service, the notice period will vary so be sure to know your rights.  Check with your HR department or even search online to ensure you are being treated fairly under the law in your region.  You’ll want to consider a number of factors:

  • When is your last pay?
  • What are your benefit entitlements?
  • Are you eligible for severance according to labour laws or your employment contract?
  • Who can you contact for references?

Available Support

Once you have a clear picture of your layoff, consider what kind of support is available to you.  Sometimes government services such as employment insurance or supported job searches can help you transition from one job to the next.  It’s well worth your while to determine what support is available to you as soon as possible.  You’re already in the groove of working regular hours, so you can focus your time and attention on what’s coming next.  As already stated, taking the proactive approach will ease your transition to new employment.

Your Personal and Professional Supports

Remember, you are not alone.  No matter how stressed out losing your job can be, you have friends, family, and professional relationships that can help you get back on your feet.  If you need to take some time for yourself, do it – getting laid off is a difficult experience, and giving yourself a few days to adjust is fair.  At the same time, relying on your network of friends and family will allow you to maintain perspective while considering what opportunities are available.  Don’t forget to reach out to your professional network to see what’s out there.  Your social media connections are another resource that can help you find appropriate work.

Make a Plan

Finally, when your mind has settled and you know the terms of your lay off, start to make a plan.  Keep structure in your day, manage your self-care, and put yourself to work finding suitable, challenging, and satisfying work.

What is Privacy Rights Law?

What is Privacy Rights Law?

What is Privacy Rights Law?

With respect to your right to privacy, do you understand the law in Canada?  Privacy rights law in Canada relates to your personal information and how different agencies, including government agencies can use that information.  When you consider how often you share personal information and the diverse range of organizations and institutions that receive this information, it should come as no surprise that privacy law in Canada is quite complex.  While the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out the basic human rights to which all Canadians are entitled, it does not explicitly outline privacy rights.  Instead, the Privacy Act of 1983 is the first legislation to outline our rights to privacy.  Let’s have a closer look.

The Privacy Act in its original form speaks directly to how the federal government and associated institutions collect and use personal information as well as enforcing an individual’s right to access their information as held by the government.  In very broad terms, the Privacy Act sets forth fair practices for information collection and sharing.  Under the Privacy Act,

  • The government can only collect personal information that relates directly to program operations or activities,
  • In most cases, the government must inform an individual when their information is collected,
  • In most cases, the government can only use information for the purposes initially stated unless an individual provides consent,
  • In most cases, personal information held by the government cannot be disclosed to other parties,
  • Canadian citizens have the right to access their personal information, and
  • The Privacy Commissioner of Canada ensures the Act is applied appropriately.

Given technological advances and the changing nature of personal information, there have also been significant changes to the act.  For example, an individual’s right to access their private information was introduced as the Access to Information Act in 1985.  In addition, the Freedom of Information Act of 1996 was implemented to improve government accountability and individual protections.  Essentially, the Freedom of Information Act clarifies and expands on some of the principles of the previous two Acts.  The Freedom of Information Act provides public access to government records not otherwise protected b the Privacy Act, provides individuals an opportunity to correct their personal information, and prevents unauthorized dissemination of personal information of personal information across public organizations.

Of course, thus far we have only discussed your privacy laws insofar as they relate to government collection of personal information.  However, there are also protections for how private sector organizations use your information.  Federally, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act regulates data privacy and private-sector collection and use of personal information.  As you can see, protecting your privacy is a complicated matter which is why it is important to work with legal professionals whenever you have concerns about your personal information.

What Is the Canadian Human Rights Act?

Human Rights Act Canada

Passed in 1977 by the Parliament of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Act is a piece of legislation that outlines legal protections for all citizens of Canada.  The goal of the act is to protect Canadians from discrimination based on membership to unique or marginalized groups.  The Canadian Human Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, marital status, age, disability, or religious or political affiliations.  The Act applies to activities with federal oversight across Canada, though most provinces and territories feature their own human rights’ code to protect against discrimination.

Discrimination is often defined as any action or behaviour that results in unjust treatment of a person or group based on their membership in a particular group.  The Canadian Human Rights Act essentially makes discrimination illegal in Canada, so anybody who is victim of discrimination according to the Act is eligible for legal protection.  Should you feel you have been subject to discrimination, you can make a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Currently, the Act makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, or a conviction for which you have been pardoned.  So, for example, you cannot be refused a loan based on your ethnic origin and you can’t be fired because your sexual orientation is revealed.

According to the Canadian Human Rights Act, discriminatory practices include the following:

  • Denying goods or services,
  • Refusing employment,
  • Pay inequity,
  • Hate speech communicated by phone or internet, or
  • Retaliation against a person who has filed a human rights complaint.

Tasked with investigating claims of discrimination, the Canadian Human Rights Commission has a vision of promoting an equal and just country for all Canadians.  The right to live life free from discrimination is a basic human right in Canada, and by law the Canadian Human Rights Commission is required to investigate every discrimination complaint received.

It is also important to know that in Canada, the Constitution shares jurisdiction for discriminatory acts at federal and provincial or territorial levels.  Some agencies and organizations (such as airlines and financial institutions) are legislated federally, whereas businesses tend to be regulated regionally by the provincial or territorial governments.

The Canadian Human Rights Act can be difficult to navigate for anybody with out expert legal knowledge.  If you feel you have experienced discrimination, but are protected under the Act, you should contact a legal representative.  You may be eligible for compensation, but only if legal discrimination is established.  Obviously, the experience of discrimination can be highly unsettling, but if you decide to pursue a complaint remember that you are protected under the law.

Dismissal Without Cause in BC

Dismissal Without Cause in BC

As an employee in British Columbia (BC), it is important to know your rights.  While there are very few protections from dismissal without cause in BC, there are still several entitlements that ensure employers are at least somewhat considerate in their decisions to terminate employment.  Unless you have a specific employment contract, the BC Employment Standards Act outlines all the conditions of employment in this province, and that includes the rules and regulations associated with dismissal.

First, let’s talk about the bad news.  Under the BC Employment Standards Act, any employer may terminate employment at any time for any reason.  This means there is no real case for dismissal without cause in BC unless you have an employment contract that outlines a broader scope of rights than the BC Employment Standards Act.

That being said, the vast majority of employees are entitled to some kind of compensation when their employment is terminated.  In order to be eligible for compensation in BC, an employee must have completed three consecutive months of employment.  Moreover, compensation is only provided in lieu of advance written notice of termination from the employer.

So then, if you’ve been employed for three or more months with the same company and you’re terminated without written notice, your employer must provide financial compensation.  All employees are entitled to one week’s pay after three consecutive months of employment, two weeks’ pay after 12 consecutive months of employment, and three weeks’ pay plus one week for each additional year after three consecutive years of employment.  Compensation in BC is maxed out at 8 weeks’ compensation.

However, it is important that employees in the province know that they are not entitled to compensation if employers provide advance written notice of termination providing this notice is equal to the number of weeks’ compensation to which the employee is entitled.  For example, if you have been employed with a company for three consecutive years, they must provide written notice 3 weeks in advance of the termination date.

You may also not be eligible for compensation under the following conditions:

  • Dismissal with just cause,
  • Termination of an on-call or temporary assignment,
  • The end of contracted employment,
  • The end of a defined term of employment,
  • Teachers employed by a board of school trustees.

Still, there are other factors covered by common law that may influence the amount of compensation or written notice to which an employee is entitled.  For example, length of service, employee age, position held, and even availability of similar employment may impact compensation.  If you feel you’ve been dismissed without just cause and you’re unsure of your rights, contact an employment lawyer to ensure you are compensated appropriately.

Things to Look for when Hiring a Labour Lawyer

Things-to-Look-for-when-Hiring-a-Labour-Lawyer

Just as you would expect variability in the skills and service of any professional, not all labour lawyers provide the same level of service.  So, what are some things to look for when hiring a labour lawyer?

Experience

It probably goes without saying that labour law is a specialized field and your lawyer should absolutely have experience with labour law.  You want to know that your lawyer is successful and can provide evidence of this success.  Labour lawyers are even further specialized, and some may have unique expertise in areas such as wrongful dismissal, human rights complaints, or negotiating employment contracts.  Take the time to ensure your lawyer not only has experience in employment law, but also the area in which you need assistance.

Integrity

Sometimes professionals in any field will say just about anything to land a client, and this can happen in law as well.  You want to know you can trust your lawyer and that they are giving you realistic advice.  Bold predictions or understated costs should be faced with some skepticism on the part of the client.  Seek realistic advice that is based on a comprehensive review of your case and associated legislation.

Communication

Legalese can be difficult to navigate, so your lawyer needs to be able to communicate with you in terms you understand.  But, beyond putting the law into lay terms, you also want to be able to communicate effectively with your lawyer.  Are your questions answered in a timely manner?  Can you contact your lawyer when you need them?  Remember that good communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship, and your communication needs are of primary importance – you’re the client!

Support

Your legal journey may be a difficult one.  Though the law should be objective, the experience of the law is not.  The most effective lawyers argue your case with compassion and empathy.  When it comes to labour law, your lawyer should be sensitive to your concerns regarding employment and the greater impact this has on your life.

Professional

Professionalism in law requires representatives to be organized and goal oriented.  Timelines should be well-organized, advice should be delivered clearly, and schedules should be treated with the utmost respect.  You can get a quick gauge of a labour lawyer’s professionalism by simply visiting their offices.  Are the spaces maintained in a clean and orderly fashion, or are their piles of files and papers seemingly askew?  Is support staff clear and concise in their communications?  You shouldn’t always judge a book by it’s cover, but if you enter a law office and things are obviously disorganized, take this as a red flag.

You should always speak with at least two potential lawyers before finally hiring your labour lawyer.  These tips should help you choose somebody who will represent you effectively, but at the end of the day you should also trust your instincts to a degree.  Choose the lawyer that represents the values of the profession while also meeting your personal needs.