Do I have to work unpaid overtime?
Overtime might be the most poorly-understood of all aspects of employment law. Common misconceptions include:
- I don't get overtime if I agreed to work it without pay
- I don't get overtime because I am on salary
- I don't get overtime because the company lets me take time off at other times
If you are working unpaid overtime, you should keep good records of it and you should probably call us. The first call is free.
In one extreme example, we unearthed a $90,000 overtime claim for an employee who had no idea it was due to her. Her gross annual (and unlawfully calculated) pay was only $30,000 before our intervention.
Should I sign my severance package?
Almost never. Whereas on occasion we are inclined to recommend signing the first offer made by the dismissing employer, 99% of the time we can improve upon that offer. Severance is an inherently nuanced matter and improvements are always possible. This is not limited to the gross payment either. Improvements can take many forms such as favourable tax structuring, positive professional references and adequate assurances that you will actually get the money on offer.
The first call is always free and we are almost never unable to improve the first offer that was made.
Is my employment contract valid?
In many ways contractual provisions can be illegal. If your contract contains one or more onerous or offensive provisions, there is a good chance those provisions are invalid. Examples of invalid provisions include, without any limitation:
- variance from the provisions of employment standards legislation
- variance from the provisions of human rights legislation
- unconscionability generally
- the addition of onerous terms after employment has started (especially in the absence of a corresponding benefit such as a raise)
- you never having agreed to the term expressly or implicitly
Employers should contact us prior to sending out employment offers. Many online precedents are American and contain clauses which are illegal in Canada (such as "at will" employment).
Employees should contact us at any time they feel they are being subjected to unfair treatment of any kind.
What can I do about sexual harassment and violence in the workplace.
It all depends.
If you want to listen to the laws of yesteryear, the practical answer is you have no good options.
But what if you tell someone you want to test your theory that the law has changed and it is time to see if a judge agrees? Our consistent experience has been that no person wants to find out. So what the law says and what you can actually achieve via litigation are not always the same thing. Contact us to find out more.
For personal reasons we are unable to defend matters in which sexual misconduct is admitted. We are, however, willing to draft policy manuals which ensure a safe workplace or to take up the defence of a wrongly-accused individual.
When is the right time to call a lawyer?
A very unfortunate irony is that many of our clients contact us too late as a result of fearing the potential costs of retaining a lawyer. In fact, with almost no exceptions, the earlier you contact a lawyer the better. Many times there are steps you can take at the very beginning of a problem (or potential problem) which can save thousands of dollars down the road. The best time to address a wrongful dismissal is usually in the hiring letter/contract.
A prominent Canadian businessperson and client of ours once told us that paying for our advice is actually a good way to make money. We agree. If we cannot add value we will say so in our first phone call, which is free. So if you even think you might want legal advice, please consider calling us to hear what we think.