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.

How Much Will it Cost to Hire a Labour Lawyer?

Benefits-of-a-Virtual-Law-Practice

 

Legal fees can be shocking, to say the least.  One of the biggest complaints clients of lawyers have is that they didn’t know what to expect when it comes to their lawyer’s fees.  Even though fees are set out in advance of establishing a lawyer-client relationship, clients are often surprised at how much time a lawyer spends on their case and as such can be surprised at the ultimate cost of services.  Another factor that clients don’t always realize is that lawyer fees are essentially unregulated – lawyers can charge whatever rate they like and there are different fee arrangements too.  With that in mind, knowing how much it will cost to hire a labour lawyer can be difficult to define, but knowing more about these fee arrangements will help you understand how much to expect a labour lawyer to cost.

Hourly Rates

Hourly rates are conventional fee arrangements for labour lawyers.  With hourly rates, lawyers are paid for the time they spend on your case which means there isn’t always a lot of incentive for them to settle cases efficiently.  Hourly rates are a great choice for concrete tasks including contract review, but not great if you anticipate a lawsuit.  Court costs themselves are quite expensive, and if you have to pay your lawyer’s hourly rate as well, you could be in for a hefty bill.  Also, if you seek employment law services, there’s a good chance your employer knows your funds are limited and they’ll be motivated to drag the case out as long as possible so that you simply cannot afford your lawyer’s time.

Time versus Result

Finally, some lawyers will also charge clients based on the greater amount of hourly or contingency agreements.  These are the least beneficial for clients because a lawyer is going to get paid a percentage of your settlement/court award or hourly rate – whichever is greater.

Ultimately, as the client, it is important for you to consider the different types of fee agreements before hiring a labour lawyer and negotiate an agreement that works best for you.

 

We are Pleased to Announce We Have Won Several Awards in 2017

awards 2017

The Worldwide Financial Advisor Awards Magazine is an internationally acknowledged online magazine based in the United Kingdom.  With readership exceeding 74,000 lawyers, advisers, consultants, and executives per issue representing 92,500 online subscriptions and subscribers in 159 countries, Worldwide Financial Advisor Awards Magazine is dedicated to recognizing the best professional and financial institutions around the world.

2017-AI-awardWith great success, the magazine published a Financial Monthly Global Awards 2016– Labour & Employment Lawyer of the Year issue wherein they recognized us for global leadership and expertise among the highest quality lawyers around the world.  Additionally, The Lawyers Worldwide Awards Magazine  presented us with the Lawyers Worldwide Awards Super Lawyers 2017 celebrating prolific law firms that stand for excellence and tenacity, thereby positioning themselves as the preeminent firms in their areas of specialization.

 

Given the prestige of these awards, we are proud to announce that we have won several awards in the Lawyers Worldwide Super Lawyers 2017 campaign.  Through a process that involves evaluation by a panel of highly respected judges, as well as feedback from the readership of Lawyers Worldwide Awards Magazine, we were nominated in the category representing Labour and Employment Law Firms.  Along with our many esteemed competitors, our firm was assessed on factors such as client retention, speed of response, and ability to manage complex cases while maintaining the utmost in client satisfaction and comfort.  Indeed, these awards are presented to firms that navigate all manner of multifaceted cases while ensuring clients are treated with unparalleled respect and provided uncompromised support.

seal - awards 2017As such, we are now rated one of the Top 3 Employment Lawyers in Coquitlam, BC.  Our efforts to consistently provide exceptional law services to our clients throughout Coquitlam and the Lower Mainland have been validated by not only our clients, but now by our international community. This is no small feat.  Utilizing a 50-point inspection process, our firm excelled across categories including reputation, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, trust, and cost.

Yet, as an even greater tribute our firm was also recognized by Global 100 as Employment and Labour Lawyer of the Year – Canada 2017.  This is certainly a humbling prize, and one that demands we recognize our amazing community of clients, as well as our international colleagues.  As an Employment Law Firm, we know the stress and uncertainty that many of our client’s face, and while our main goal is to provide quality services and the best possible support in their times of need, we feel very privileged to receive this award.  We take it as a representation of our dedication to the individualized needs of each of our clients and our determination to serve them each with excellence and respect.

Finally, we are incredibly honoured to be acknowledged by the British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association with their Innovative Workplace Award.  Recognizing creative leadership and innovation in the workplace, we are pleased to represent the forefront of virtual law practice by receiving this award.  As one of the first virtual law firms awarded, the Canadian Bar Association – BC Branch applauds our use of user-friendly, reliable technology in delivering efficient, affordable, quality legal services to a wide range of clients in British Columbia.  Through the use of pioneering technology, we have been selected for providing exceptional services to clients even in remote locations where they normally would not benefit from access to labour or human rights legal services.  Combining creative solutions and leadership to promote innovation in the practice of law are the foundations that allowed us to win the Innovative Workplace Award – a prestigious honour that we very graciously accept.

The RCMP at the Point of No Return

The RCMP at the Point of No Return

By Darryl T Davies


The colossal understatement of the year has to be that from Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.  In a recent interview when he was asked about the idea of civilian oversight for the RCMP he commented “It would be a massive change in the way the institution has operated for over a century” and “require careful thought”.  Just how much careful thought is needed to recognize and take action to overhaul the management of the RCMP at RCMP Headquarters?  Consider their performance in recent years.

First, it is now widely recognized from the ruling by provincial court Judge R. Leslie Jackson that the RCMP grossly bungled and mismanaged the delivery of equipment to front line officers, such as patrol carbines and body vests. By failing to exercise duty of care they placed their front line officers lives at risk. In the view of many this contributed directly to the number of officers that were shot and killed in Moncton in June 2014.  It is remarkable that nine years earlier when four Mounties were killed in Mayerthorpe by a deranged gunman, that RCMP officers were seriously lacking in adequate firepower and body vests.  Despite overwhelming evidence the RCMP did nothing substantive to address this gap in the arsenal of the rank and file.  Much like our current public safety minister Ralph Goodale they claimed they needed to give the matter careful thought.  For RCMP management nine years evidently was not enough time but this was not a view shared by Judge R. Leslie Jackson when he convicted the RCMP in September 2017 in a Moncton courtroom.

Second, the RCMP paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars earlier this year to members of the rank and file who were bullied and subject to sexual harassment for years. The fact they did not fire one single officer in the senior ranks who was responsible for this predatory behaviour defies logic but then again if history is anything to go by with the RCMP they probably needed time like nine years to study the problem.

Third, then we have RCMP management who are so out of touch with what’s going on in their organization that they were not even aware that some of their employees were running around stark naked and flashing their genitals to all and sundry at the RCMP Police College. What a ringing endorsement for an organization that is fixated on its public image.

Fourth, this past March both the Auditor General of Canada and the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP released damning reports highlighting the fact that the RCMP is in every sense of the word a dysfunctional organization.  Both reports set out clear recommendations outlining what is wrong with the organization and how to fix the problem.  Despite this fact the public safety minister has stated on the record that he needs to study the problem.  There have been innumerable reports that have been produced in the past five years setting out a blue print for changing the RCMP and yet not one public safety minister has had the wherewithal to have their recommendations implemented.

Any organization that operated the way the RCMP have operated would have been disbanded years ago. How many public safety ministers and how many years does it take for governments to fix a problem?  In many respects we should be grateful for the fact that we have independent and impartial courts of law in Canada or nothing would change for the better.  For many observers who are knowledgeable about the problems in policing, public safety ministers have been carrying around a picket fence with them for so long that the best they can offer when confronted with a major crisis is to sit on it. The fact that nothing changes is a sad commentary but it speaks clearly to the fact that when it comes to fixing the RCMP the problem is due to the four horsemen of political inaction namely inertia, ignorance, apathy and cost.

Fifth, in recent years there have been an inordinate number of lawsuits launched against the RCMP. Many of these lawsuits have been filed by individuals in the rank and file who have endured years of horrific abuse and maltreatment. These lawsuits have been filed at considerable cost to the taxpayers of this country and this is largely due to the fact that RCMP management are so incompetent that they can’t see or refuse to see a problem when it’s staring them in the face.  Earlier this year a judge called the RCMP’s treatment of a sergeant ‘outrageous’ in a bullying case.  The judge described the RCMP’s actions against Sgt Peter Merrifield as reckless and awarded the plaintiff $41,000 in lost wages for delayed advancement and $100,000 in general damages. The judge slammed the RCMP for its lack of credibility and forthrightness in defending the case.

In recent months a number of very brave and honourable members in the RCMP rank and file like Corporal Patrick Bouchard have been speaking publically about the way they have been treated by senior management in the RCMP and its inadequate leadership.  Although it’s an internal disciplinary offence to criticize the RCMP in public a number of very courageous members within the Force have called out the organization for its dysfunctional and lack lustre leadership.  In my view these officers should receive the Order of Canada for having the courage to speak out about the malignancy that is infecting the highest levels of the organization.

Sixth, recently the former president of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada Rae Banwarie tendered his resignation from the RCMP.  In doing so his letter chronicled the reasons for leaving the RCMP.  When people of his calibre give up on the organization it should send a clear message as to why so many members are quitting the force and why the RCMP’s recruitment program is floundering. Rae Banwarie’s letter should be read in the House of Commons to every member of parliament so they and all Canadians can learn about the extent of the problems in our national police service.  It’s a fair question to ask who wants to work for an organization that as BC psychologist Mike Webster stated a few years ago will make you sick?

When you factor in the rampant patronage at RCMP headquarters and the view by some observers that they are using archaic and obsolete training methods one could cogently make a case that the RCMP is already at the point of no return.  If there is any luminosity in this bleak picture it’s the rank and file.  Despite serious staffing shortages that are causing occupational stress for RCMP members the vast majority of them are continuing to provide our communities with stellar policing services across the country often at great cost to their health and personal lives. This is not the time to be making  political platitudes while the institution is at the edge of the abyss.

Instead of wasting time claiming he is going to study the problem, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale should do something concrete and now.  For starters, he could make major management and structural changes at RCMP Headquarters.  The evidence that management is to blame for the RCMP’s Pandora’s box is overwhelming. In addition, he should immediately take measures to establish a civilian review board so that it’s in place before the next Commissioner is appointed.  Finally, he can make the process for selecting the next Commissioner of the RCMP transparent, open and accountable.  The time for studying the problem has long passed.

Darryl T Davies is an instructor in criminology and criminal justice in the department of sociology and anthropology at Carleton University.  Professor Davies was a crown witness at the Labour Canada trial against the RCMP in Moncton, New Brunswick.