Our Services: Employees
At Suliman Lehner, we provide legal advice and representation to employees at every stage of the employment relationship.
Beginning of Employment Relationship
Review of Employment Offers and Contracts
An employment contract or written job offer will often not only set out an employee's compensation and responsibilities, but may also seek to restrict an employee’s entitlements upon termination and limit their activities both during and after the employment relationship. Reviewing your written offer of employment or employment contract with an employment lawyer prior to signing it will allow you to understand these conditions and their implications before your employment begins and avoid costly surprises down the road. Sometimes it is possible to negotiate the removal of clauses that are unfavourable to the employee. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
Executive employment contracts tend to be complex agreements that are designed to attract and retain top-level talent. Executives tend to have greater bargaining power and the ability to negotiate more favourable terms with the employer.
An executive’s compensation is typically designed to reward their performance and role in assisting the company achieve its objectives. Incentives often include signing bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, short-term and long-term incentive plans, bonuses, generous benefit and pension plans, and other perquisites. Executive employment contracts may have complex accrual, vesting and termination clauses that could significantly impact on an executive’s overall compensation. It is advisable to have these complex agreements reviewed by an employment lawyer before they are signed. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
Discrimination in Hiring
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a potential employee on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. Employers are prohibited from screening out candidates, asking discriminatory questions during the interview process, refusing to hire an individual, or providing an employee with a lower rate of pay on these grounds. If you believe you were discriminated against in the hiring process, please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
Changes to Employment
An employer is not allowed to unilaterally make fundamental changes to an employee’s existing employment terms, such as his or her job responsibilities, pay, or work location, without providing adequate advance notice. The amount of notice that is required is a legal question that depends on a number of factors, such as the provisions of the employee's original written employment agreement, the employee's length of service, the employee's age, the employee's position, the employee's training and experience, and the nature of the industry in which the employee is employed.
An employer may also try to impose changes to the employment agreement by seeking to have the employee agree to the change. Employees should not agree to a change that an employer is seeking impose without obtaining legal advice.
A fundamental change to an employee’s employment relationship may give rise to a constructive dismissal claim. It is important to get timely legal advice when an employer proposes a significant change to the employment relationship. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
Workplace Harassment and Discrimination
Employers are obliged to provide their employees with a safe workplace environment that is free from harassment (including sexual harassment) and discrimination. Employers who fail to protect their employees from being subjected to harassment, workplace violence, or discrimination may be liable for constructive dismissal. Employees who experience discriminatory treatment or comments on the grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability during the course of their employment may also be able to seek redress under Ontario’s Human Rights legislation. To set up an initial consultation with respect to workplace harassment issues, please contact us.
Disability and Accommodation Issues
The Human Rights Code obliges employers to accommodate employees with disabilities, such as an injury, mental or physical illness or impairment, or suffer from addiction, up to the point of undue hardship. An employer's failure to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee amounts to discrimination. If your employer has failed to accommodate your disability, or has terminated or threatened to terminate your employment because of your disability, you should contact an employment lawyer to discuss what remedies may be available. Please contact us to set up an initial legal consultation.
Discipline and Performance
Employers often use Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) or other formal warnings and disciplinary measures to try to establish a case for terminating an employee with cause. An employee may have redress against unwarranted discipline. If your employer has raised performance issues or you have been subject to discipline or received a warning from your employer, please contact us to set up an initial legal consultation.
Termination of Employment and Beyond
Wrongful Dismissal Claims
Generally, an employer may legally terminate an employee in one of the following two circumstances:
If they have just cause to terminate the employee, then the employee can be terminated without notice or termination pay.
If they do not have just cause to terminate the employee, then the employee can only be terminated if the employer provides adequate advance notice of the termination or termination pay instead of that notice.
What is “just cause”?
Just cause is very difficult to establish and is reserved for cases of very serious misconduct. Repeated less significant misconduct or performance issues may occasionally justify dismissing an employee for cause if the employee has been warned about the misconduct and given a fair opportunity to improve their performance.
If your employer has alleged that it had cause to terminate your employment, please contact us to set up an initial legal consultation.
How much notice am I entitled to?
An employee's entitlement to notice or pay in lieu of notice upon termination depends on a multitude of factors. Such factors include but are not limited to:
provisions that may be employee's initial written employment agreement
the employee's length of service
the employee's age
the employee's position
the employee's training and experience
the industry in which the employee is employed.
At Suliman Lehner we use AI machine learning tools to supplement our experience and calculate our clients’ legal entitlements upon termination.
It is not uncommon for an employee to be under the mistaken impression that his or her entitlements upon termination is prescribed by the notice provisions prescribed by the Employment Standards Act, 2000. These range from 0-8 weeks depending on the employee’s length of service. The Employment Standards Act only prescribes an employee’s minimum entitlements. In the absence of a carefully drafted and enforceable termination clause in the employment contract that limits an employee’s entitlements upon termination, employees are entitled to what is known as "reasonable common law notice”. In many cases, an employee’s entitlement to pay in lieu of reasonable common law notice is significant.
If you have been terminated, you should review your rights and options with an employment lawyer. Please contact us to set up an initial legal consultation.
Termination/Severance Package Review
Upon termination, employees are often presented with a termination or severance package by their employer. These packages typically require the departing employee to sign a release in favour of their employer in exchange for termination pay. Often, the termination pay being offered by the employer falls well short of an employee’s legal entitlement. Signing the release generally absolves the employer of any future responsibility and prevents the employee from seeking redress in the event that the termination pay offered is inadequate. It is therefore critical that an employee not sign their termination package before obtaining legal advice from an employment lawyer.
As Suliman Lehner we charge a flat rate of $300 inclusive of HST for a severance package review. In addition to their termination package, we ask our clients to bring any other relevant documents, including a copy of their employment contract/offer and any written communications with their employer leading up to their termination.
During the legal consultation, an employment lawyer will review the circumstances of the dismissal, the severance package offered, as well as the client’s employment offer/contract in detail. At Suliman Lehner we use AI machine learning tools to supplement our experience and calculate our clients' legal entitlements and to determine whether the termination package offered is fair. We provide our clients with a written analysis of their legal entitlement. Our lawyer will offer practical advice as to whether it makes sense, from a financial perspective, to pursue the employer for more termination pay. If the termination package is unfair, the lawyer will present cost-consciousness options with respect to seeking a more favourable settlement.
Please contact us to schedule a review of your termination package with an employment lawyer.
Employees who voluntarily resign their employment are not entitled to any compensation from their employer or employment insurance.
In the case of a voluntary resignation, it is important for the employee to consult their employment agreement prior to tendering their resignation, as their employment contract may prescribe the amount of advance notice the employee is required to give their employer. Careful consideration should also be given to any terms that may seek to restrict the departing employee’s activities after their departure, such as confidentiality, non-compete and non-solicitation clauses.
In some cases, an employee’s resignation is not truly voluntary. Some employees contemplate resigning their employment because of unfair or discriminatory treatment in the workplace, being subjected to a poisonous workplace environment, or because of fundamental changes to their job description or pay. Such circumstances may give rise to a constructive dismissal claim. If you are contemplating leaving your employment for these reasons, you should get timely legal advice to discuss your options. An employment lawyer may be able to assist you set up your departure from the workplace in a manner that seeks to protect your rights and entitlements. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or disability. If you believe your termination was discriminatory, please contact us to set up an initial consultation.
Defence Against Employer Claims
Our firm has experience defending employees against claims by their employer or former employer arising from alleged breaches of their employment contract or fiduciary duties to their employer. If you are being threatened with legal action by a current or former employer, you should get timely legal advice. Please contact us to set up an initial consultation.