Areas of Expertise

Administrative Law

In our legal system the fact that the government is the government does not give it unlimited rights or power. Administrative law deals with the limits the law places on government activity and the remedies available when those limits are exceeded.

The team at Sherrard Kuzz LLP is involved in every aspect of administrative law as it relates to the workplace. We assist clients understand their rights and obligations and navigate toward their business objectives. This depth of knowledge is significant because the employment relationship is among the most highly regulated in Canada. Common examples of employment and labour legislation include: employment standards, human rights, occupational health and safety, privacy, labour relations, workplace safety and insurance, etc. There are also many laws and regulations that indirectly affect the employment relationship.

Advising the Multinational and Multi-Jurisdictional Employer

Members of our team regularly provide strategic employment and labour law advice to employers – foreign and domestic – operating or commencing operations within Canada, or in Canadian and foreign jurisdictions.

In most cases, the overarching objective is to design a human resource strategy that maximizes opportunity within each local jurisdiction in accordance with prevailing employment and labour laws while at the same time achieves an overall global human resource strategy.

This is a significant objective because within Canada the power to regulate employment and labour relations is held primarily by the respective provinces and territories. An organization considering carrying on business within more than one Canadian jurisdiction must therefore be aware of the different employment and labour laws in each province and territory.

Federal power over employment and labour relations extends only to a limited number of industries including inter-provincial transportation (i.e., long-haul trucking, railways, airlines, etc.), telecommunications (i.e., telephones, television, radio, internet, etc.), postal services (i.e., Canada Post, inter-provincial couriers, etc.), and banking and federal government services. All other businesses fall under the authority of the respective provincial / territorial governments and legislation..

We regularly provide to our clients advice and representation regarding Canada-wide employment and labour law, including:

To ensure our clients' needs are met, wherever they do business, we have developed relationships with local counsel throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia.

(i) Employment Law Alliance®

Our commitment to outstanding client service includes our membership in the Employment Law Alliance®, an international network of management-side employment and labour law firms. The world's largest alliance of employment and labour law experts, the Employment Law Alliance® offers a powerful resource to employers with more than 3000 lawyers in 300 cities around the world. Each Employment Law Alliance® firm is a local firm with strong ties to the local legal community where employers have operations.

(ii) Partnerships Across Canada

We have developed relationships with local counsel in every province and territory throughout Canada. We have worked with our regional partners for many years and are confident in their ability to provide service and advice at the same consistently high level clients receive from us.

Attendance Management

The unauthorized failure to attend for work in a regular and reliable fashion is a breach of an employee’s workplace obligation. Yet, the appropriate employer response is not always straight-forward.

We know from experience early intervention with employees absent from work has proven rewards to business operations. We also know, given recent and impending changes to the workplace safety and insurance legislation, there can be significant cost opportunities available to employers who successfully manage attendance. Yet, absenteeism issues have become increasingly complex due to the interaction of factors such as disability, religion, and a range of other human rights both actual and alleged.

Our team regularly assists employers design, implement and administer absenteeism control programs to reduce:

We strongly advocate and support our clients in the development and implementation of an integrated absence management system which encourages early intervention with absent employees. Implemented consistently and transparently, an integrated absence management system maximizes the early return to work of employees wherever possible while at the same time respects the health and welfare of the employee.

Where an employee’s health may be at issue the employer often has insufficient medical information on which to base an informed decision. We therefore assist clients to proactively:

(see also Human Rights and Accommodation and Workplace Safety and Insurance )

Civil Litigation -and- Wrongful and Constructive Dismissal Litigation

Our lawyers appear before all levels of the Ontario Courts, Federal Court of Canada and at the Supreme Court of Canada on a wide variety of matters related to employment and labour law. This includes:

Collective Agreement Administration

We appreciate the need for strategic and proactive legal advice does not end when collective bargaining has concluded and an agreement has been signed. Employers are frequently confronted with complex issues arising from the interpretation and administration of a collective agreement. We regularly assist clients to:

Collective Bargaining

Collective bargaining is a fundamental aspect of the practice at Sherrard Kuzz LLP. Our team regularly provides advice to employers in both the public and private sectors on collective bargaining strategy and drafting collective agreement proposals.

We maximize clients’ results by:

Compensation and Benefits Plans

Successful businesses must attract, retain and motivate talented and dynamic employees in fiercely competitive markets. A key component in achieving these goals is the design, implementation and administration of effective compensation and benefits arrangements.

We partner our expertise in employment law with experts in pensions and benefits, securities, taxation and corporate governance and regulation to help our clients create innovative and tax-effective compensation and benefits arrangements for employees and senior executives. This may include: stock option plans, restricted stock plans, deferred share unit plans, stock purchase plans, phantom stock plans, omnibus stock plans, equity-based incentive programs, broad-based profit sharing plans and other bonus and incentive plans, supplementary retirement plans and their related funding instruments, change in control arrangements, non-competition / confidentiality provisions, and severance arrangements.

(see also Employment Contracts and Executive Employment Agreements and Compensation)

Construction Labour Relations

Sherrard Kuzz LLP is recognized as a leading provider of strategic advice and effective employment and labour relations representation within the construction industry.

We have comprehensive expertise working within the construction industry’s unique legislative framework, and are familiar with the complex issues, interests, relationships and key players in all trades. We assist all types and sizes of employers including employer associations, general contractors, developers, builders and subcontractors. We represent their interests in a wide variety of proceedings, including but not limited to:

Employee Relations

A hallmark of the practice at Sherrard Kuzz LLP is assisting clients to develop strategies and implement practical programs to improve and motivate their workforces and retain top performers. In our experience, a common by-product of strong employee relations is the creation or maintenance of a union free workplace.

Our training programs are unlike anything else in Canada. They are multi-faceted, original and designed to have direct and immediate application in the workplace. We customize every program to meet and exceed the needs of our clients, including for example: interactive seminars, role-playing, self-taught training material, workbooks and hand-outs, and situational analysis.

We always look for opportunities to enable our clients to take over the training directly, so their own leaders become more highly skilled and knowledgeable. Training topics have included:

(see also Management Training )

Employment Screening and Hiring

We are often asked by clients for assistance drafting and refining job descriptions and interviewing and screening prospective employees. Typical areas where our advice is requested include: questions permitted or prohibited under human rights legislation, criminal records checks, reference checks, drug and alcohol testing, psychological screening, and avoidance of wrongful dismissal claims when preparing or changing job descriptions.

Employment and Labour Issues in Corporate Restructuring and Transactions

Members of our firm regularly act as employment and labour law counsel on a wide variety of issues relating to the acquisition, divestiture and restructuring of businesses, including:

Employment Contracts

We regularly assist clients prepare and implement employment contracts at every level of the organization with the appropriate degree of complexity and sophistication. From entry level staff to senior executives whose compensation arrangements may be unusual or complex, a written employment contract can play a critical role in protecting the interests of the organization. So too can a range of other employment related agreements including, for example, a non-solicitation agreement, consulting agreement, and independent contractor agreement.

Skillfully prepared, these agreements allow an employer to identify with certainty and precision its obligations during the course of the employment relationship and at the time of its conclusion. Particularly when the relationship is concluded a written employment contract is an employer’s most effective tool to significantly limit liability.

see also Compensation and Benefit Plans and Executive Employment Agreements and Compenstation).

Employment Standards

Employment Standards legislation is among the most important governing the employment relationship. We regularly advise clients on issues relating to Part III of the Canada Labour Code or provincial employment standards, such as the Ontario Employment Standards Act, and have extensive experience appearing before the appropriate boards and bodies.

We advise clients on issues such as:

We also assist clients draft employment policies and procedures that comply with employment standards legislation, and assist them to find significant efficiencies in the design and implementation of payroll and scheduling practices. We also provide complete and comprehensive representation and advice during employment standards audits and investigations.

(see also Workplace Audits and Workplace Investigations)

Executive Employment Agreements and Compensation

Successful businesses must attract, retain and motivate talented and dynamic employees in fiercely competitive markets. A key component in achieving these goals is the design, implementation and administration of effective compensation and benefits arrangements. This requires a sophisticated understanding of a range of legal and business issues including domestic and foreign tax laws, employment laws, and securities disclosure and compliance requirements.

We partner our expertise in employment law with experts in pensions and benefits, securities, taxation and corporate governance and regulation to help our clients create innovative and tax-effective compensation and benefits arrangements for employees and senior executives. This may include: stock option plans, restricted stock plans, deferred share unit plans, stock purchase plans, phantom stock plans, omnibus stock plans, equity-based incentive programs, broad-based profit sharing plans, long term incentive plans and other bonus and incentive plans, supplementary retirement plans and their related funding instruments, change in control arrangements, non-competition / confidentiality provisions, and severance arrangements.

(see also Employment Conracts)

Grievance Arbitration

Our team has recognized expertise representing clients before single arbitrators and boards of arbitration. We have appeared before and have strong relationships with many of Canada’s leading arbitrators and appreciate their individual preferences. This experience and ‘credibility’ assists us to efficiently manage arbitrations on behalf of our clients and obtain desired results. We are also regularly asked to serve as keynote speakers in leading labour relations conferences throughout Canada, and publish on a variety of related issues.

We know from experience the cost to an organization (financially, politically and strategically) of a high volume of grievances and arbitrations can be crippling. We have successfully assisted clients to significantly reduce their volume of grievances and arbitrations, streamline their processes and implement initiatives designed to foster early stage resolution. We have achieved this through training programs which provide managers and leaders the skills they need to identify early signs of workplace discontent and proactively resolve issues. We have also designed and implemented truncated or expedited processes to cost-effectively address one or several grievances and any arbitration backlog. Examples of the types of arbitration issues on which we regularly assist clients include:

Human Rights and Accommodation

Our team is recognized for its extensive experience in human rights. We are regularly asked to serve as keynote speakers in leading human rights conferences throughout Canada, and publish on a variety of human rights related issues.

Our day-to-day practice includes advice on compliance with human rights legislation, assistance in the development of human rights policies, design and delivery of training programs, and acting as counsel before human rights adjudicators and courts in the event of a complaint.

Consistent with our practice philosophy we stress prevention and encourage clients to deal proactively with human rights issues rather than waiting to respond reactively to particular complaints. Where a breach is alleged we assist clients to address the issues thoughtfully, thoroughly and strategically to resolve the particular case at hand and any broader issue that may exist in the workplace. This often includes designing and/or implementing effective complaint investigation processes. (see also Workplace Investigations ).

If a matter proceeds to a hearing we vigorously advocate on behalf of our clients before the applicable human rights tribunal. With the recent changes to the Ontario Human Rights Code and the transition to a direct access complaint model, knowledge of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal's rules, practices and members is critical to ensuring clients receive the best representation possible. Our team appears regularly before the Tribunal, representing employers at all stages of the process.

The following are examples of some of our more frequent human rights work:

(i) Attendance Management and Access to Medical Information

The unauthorized failure to attend for work in a regular and reliable fashion is a breach of an employee’s workplace obligation. Yet, the appropriate employer response is not always straight-forward.

We know from experience early intervention with employees absent from work has proven rewards to business operations. We also know, given recent and impending changes to the workplace safety and insurance legislation, there can be significant cost opportunities available to employers who successfully manage attendance. Yet, absenteeism issues have become increasingly complex due to the interaction of factors including disability, religion, and a range of other human rights both actual and alleged.

Our team regularly assists employers to design, implement and administer absenteeism control programs to reduce:

We strongly advocate and support our clients in the development and implementation of an integrated absence management system which encourages early intervention with absent employees. Implemented consistently and transparently, an integrated absence management system maximizes the early return to work of employees wherever possible while at the same time respects the health and welfare of the employee.

Where an employee’s health may be at issue the employer often has insufficient medical information on which to base an informed decision. We therefore assist clients to proactively:

(ii) Duty to Accommodate

The question of accommodation arises in a multitude of situations including, disability (visible, invisible and perceived), family status, creed, sex and gender, to name a few. We work with clients to determine what, if any, legal obligations are triggered in the face of a request for accommodation, and assist them to find the appropriate balance between operational objectives and the duty to accommodate.

(iii) Short Term and Long Term Disability

We frequently assist employers with all aspects of disability management and claims. This includes defending claims against employers regarding disability issues, and developing strategies to return employees to work in a manner that best meets operational objectives. Recent judicial decisions have also highlighted the potential for employer liability where an employee, whose employment has been terminated, becomes disabled during the notice period. We assist clients to identify this risk and take steps to minimize potential liability.

(iv) Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Alcohol and substance abuse workplace issues are among the most difficult for an employer to address, as they often are not known to the employer until a significant incident has occurred. Abuse and addiction are also highly personal matters which require a sensitive balancing of an employer’s need to know with its obligations under human rights and privacy legislation. We encounter these issues frequently and our lawyers are adept at assisting employers to navigate through the challenging waters.

(v) Mental Illness

We have experienced a significant increase in employee claims for accommodation due to mental illness. Our firm has developed a particular expertise in the area partnering with a number of medical professionals skilled in both the diagnostic and treatment protocols of such illnesses.

(vi) Accessibility

Applying our longstanding expertise in human rights and disability, Sherrard Kuzz LLP has become an industry leader as it relates to accessibility requirements, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (“AODA”) and associated Accessibility Standards. Team members frequently publish and speak publicly on the topic of the AODA and are routinely asked to lead seminars and workshops on AODA compliance for clients, employer organizations and a variety of speaking houses.

Our firm assists clients in all aspects of accessibility compliance, including compliance with the AODA, Accessibility Standards for Customer Service, and Integrated Accessibility Standards, including: education on the substantive requirements of the legislation, legal advice regarding the scope of those requirements, facilitation of audits required to identify barriers, preparation of policies, practices and procedures, assistance with on-going training programs including substantive review of on-line training programs, in-person training of management and front-line employees, and implementation.

Injunctive Court Proceedings and Judicial Review

Our lawyers appear on behalf of clients either seeking injunctive relief where there is an unlawful strike or breach of an employment contract (such as a non-competition or non-solicitation clause), or on behalf of companies defending against this type of allegation. We also have experience arguing Judicial Review applications, and requesting and arguing arbitral and labour relations board decision reconsiderations - the step before Judicial Review.

Interest Arbitration

When the process of collective bargaining does not conclude with a negotiated agreement between management and the union, we have extensive experience assisting management prepare for, and participate in, the process of “interest arbitration”. This includes:

Labour Relations Board Proceedings and Canada Industrial Relations Board Proceedings

Our team regularly appears before labour relations boards representing the interests of clients. We pride ourselves on having excellent working relationships with the members of all labour relations boards, including the Canada Industrial Relations Board and Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), which in turn can be of great benefit to our clients.

Matters on which we frequently appear include (but are not limited to):

Finally, our articling students (most of whom become our lawyers) participate in a six-eight week secondment with the OLRB during which they ‘junior’ for the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the Board, receiving invaluable knowledge and experience.

Management Training

A hallmark of our practice is our commitment to ensuring clients are fully informed of and trained on applicable employment and labour related laws and best practices.

We strongly believe the most effective way to assist our clients is to partner with them in training and educating their management teams. We customize every training program to meet and exceed the needs of our clients, including for example: interactive seminars, role playing, self-taught training material, workbooks and hand-outs, situational analysis, and “how to” approaches to workplace issues. We always look for opportunities to enable our clients to take over the training programs directly so that their own leaders advance their skills and knowledge.

For example, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) was passed by the Ontario provincial government in June 2005 with the stated goal of making Ontario accessible to persons with disabilities by the year 2025. The AODA places a number of new obligations on employers. Although the AODA did not come into force until 2005, our lawyers began working with clients in 2004 to proactively prepare their managers and workplaces for leadership and compliance. The same can be said for our proactive approach to preparing clients for a variety of legislative requirements, with the potential to impact the way in which they do business.

For example, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (the “AODA”) was passed by the Ontario provincial government in June 2005 with the stated goal of making Ontario accessible to persons with disabilities by the year 2025. The AODA places a number of new obligations on employers. Although the AODA did not come into force until 2005, our lawyers began working with clients in 2004 to proactively prepare their managers and workplaces for leadership and compliance. The same can be said for our proactive approach to preparing clients for a variety of legislative requirements, with the potential to impact the way in which they do business.

Employment Law

Labour Law

Human Rights and Accommodation

Workplace Safety & Insurance

Occupational Health & Safety

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

In virtually every adversarial employment or labour process there are opportunities (and in some cases obligations) to participate in mediation. A properly conducted mediation can result in a cost effective resolution designed entirely by the parties. Our team is highly skilled at designing and/or participating in unique as well as traditional mediation processes to further our clients’ interests regardless of the desired outcome.

Occupational Health and Safety

We regularly advise and represent employers regarding their obligations under provincial occupational health and safety legislation as well as federal legislation such as amendments to the Criminal Code brought in through Bill C-45.

We assist employers develop joint health and safety committees and provide training regarding the proper functioning of these groups. This includes assisting clients develop internal health and safety committees, policies and programs, conduct workplace audit and investigations, and implement discipline and other enforcement mechanisms.

We assist employers respond to Ministry of Labour orders including stop work orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and appeal orders by Ministry of Labour inspectors, and defend prosecution of charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We also have experience obtaining standing and participating in Coroner’s Inquests on behalf of Interested Parties.

We assist employers respond to Ministry of Labour orders including stop work orders under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and appeal orders by Ministry of Labour inspectors, and defend prosecution of charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. We also have experience obtaining standing and participating in Coroner’s Inquests on behalf of Interested Parties.

Self-audit

Ministry of Labour Audit

(see also Management Training, Workplace Audits and Workplace Investigations )

Outsourcing

We provide advice to clients seeking to outsource selected work functions in both unionized and non-unionized environments whether contracting with third party providers, labour supply companies and/or independent service providers.

Pay Equity

Employers in Ontario must comply with the provincial Pay Equity Act. This includes maintaining pay equity as new jobs are created and/or there are “changed circumstances”. In almost every case, pay equity is an important consideration during collective bargaining and in the event of a merger, acquisition or sale. The failure to maintain pay equity can be costly, both financially and in the public eye. Our team has experience assisting clients achieve and maintain pay equity compliance, as well as respond to and participate in investigations commenced by the Pay Equity Commission and in adjudications before the Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal.

Policy Development and Implementation

A workplace policy and/or practice must be more than legally compliant. It must also recognize the practical realities of the particular workplace. Our team is known for its ability to efficiently and strategically assist clients design and implement workplace policies tailored to their individual work environments.

Drafting a policy is intricate work and the devil is almost always in the detail. Our approach is to ensure the policy meets our client’s operational objective, and legal requirements without overpromising or overreaching.

Implementation is the next crucial step. Even the best written policy is of little significance if not implemented well. In our experience, a well implemented policy or practice is:

The following are examples of some of the policies we have assisted clients draft and implement:

Finally, we are regularly asked to serve as keynote speakers in leading employment and labour relations conferences on the topic of policy development and implementation and frequently publish on these topics.

Privacy

Members of our firm write and lecture extensively on this evolving regulatory regime. We are experienced advising clients under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Privacy Act, Personal Health Information Protection Act, and regarding the Access to Information Act, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Our firm is privacy-compliant, with expertise advising and assisting our clients in the following areas:

  • Educational training and seminars
  • Customized privacy questionnaires and audits
  • Compliance strategy and plans
  • Compliance implementation
  • Privacy practices and protocols
  • Avoiding and addressing privacy violations
  • Representation at privacy complaint hearings
  • Responding to Access To Information Requests
  • Ongoing support

We appreciate proactive, privacy-compliant organizations can achieve the following competitive advantages:

  • Enhanced public image and branding
  • Increased customer and employee confidence and loyalty
  • Secured e-commerce transactions
  • Growth of E-commerce based revenue and market share
  • Assured customer privacy
  • Avoidance of inter-provincial and international trade barriers

Responding to Union Organizing and Applications for Certification

Sherrard Kuzz LLP sets the industry standard. Our assistance is proactive, strategic and multi-faceted.

The first step begins long before there are signs of union activity. This includes assisting clients develop strategies and implement practical programs to enhance the leadership skills of their front-line managers and supervisors. The objective is to create or strengthen positive employee relations and a motivated workforce. We always look for opportunities to enable our clients to take over training programs directly so their own leaders become more highly skilled and knowledgeable.

The second step is to train management to identify the signs of union activity and take proactive steps to address the underlying issues.

The third step, should union organizing occur, is to ensure managers and leaders know what they can and should say and do in response. This includes assisting management to understand its right to free speech and how to exercise that right while remaining in compliance with the law. Every manager and supervisor should have the knowledge, skills and tools to effectively lead their workforce in response to union organizing activity.

In the event a client receives an application for certification, we attend and remain at our client’s site so we are continually available to provide immediate assistance in real time, 24-hours a day, if requested, maximizing our client’s opportunity to successfully resist the union’s efforts.

Sale or Closure

Many issues arise when an employer transfers, closes or sells a business. We have extensive experience assisting unionized and non-unionized employers develop practical strategies to minimize the financial impact and business disruption. This includes:

  • Adjustment plans
  • Checklists and timelines
  • Early termination of collective agreements
  • Golden parachute contracts
  • Mass termination
  • Notice and severance payments
  • Pension/Registered Retirement Savings Plan issues
  • Receivership/bankruptcy issues
  • Termination of employment contracts

Strike or Lock-Out Preparation and Business Continuity Planning

The possibility of a strike or lockout is a risk for some employers bound by a collective agreement.

We help clients plan for this type of work interruption and work closely with them during the interruption itself. This includes the design and implementation of business continuity plans, communication strategies and litigation where necessary. We are also highly skilled at seeking urgent remedial relief from the Ontario Labour Relations Board and courts in the event of an unlawful work stoppage. Throughout it all, we appreciate it may be our clients’ long-term interest to build and maintain productive and trusting relationships with their trade union(s) and employees. We therefore make every effort to ensure when disagreement does occur resolution is reached with the least possible disruption, while achieving our clients’ goals.

Workplace Audits

In recent years the Ministry of Labour has significantly increased its focus on carrying out workplace spot audits under each of the Employment Standards, Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Health and Safety Acts. We help our clients prepare for and participate in spot audits by assisting them to:

Self Audit

  • Understand the importance of carrying out self-audits
  • Design effective self-audits
  • Respond appropriately to the results of a self-audit

Ministry of Labour Audits

  • Understand Ministry of Labour initiatives
  • Determine whether the workplace is a probable target
  • Understand what to do when an auditor comes knocking
  • Implement best practices to ensure a smooth audit process

Workplace Investigations

(i) Why Investigate?

More and more employers are recognizing the importance of workplace investigations not simply to ensure statutory compliance but to discover problems, prevent recurrence, take corrective action and prepare for mediation and/or arbitration. Common circumstances in which an employer should consider conducting an investigation include (but are not limited to):

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment and/or violence
  • Inappropriate and/or unprofessional behaviour
  • Hostile or disruptive work environment
  • Threats
  • Vandalism and other sabotage
  • Violations of workplace rules/policies
  • Safety complaints
  • Workplace theft
  • Substance abuse
  • Statutory violations
  • Workplace disputes

(ii) The Role of Sherrard Kuzz LLP

As one of Canada’s leading employment and labour law firms representing management, we regularly assist clients to plan and carry out effective and efficient workplace investigations by working with them to:

  • Assess the complaint or issue
  • Help the client define and refine its objectives. For example, in the case of an investigation, is the objective:
    • Fact finding
    • To provide an opinion whether the conduct at issue constitutes a violation of legislation or a workplace policy?
    • Remedial recommendations
    • Remedial implementation
    • Policy amendments
    • Conflict resolution
  • Determine whether to involve an external expert, and if so, when and how
  • Provide legal and strategic advice from start to finish including best practices
  • Conduct the investigation (in whole or in part), and/or assist the client to conduct the investigation internally
  • Assist in the design and implementation of recommendations and/or remedial steps
  • Assist in the design and implementation of self-audits (follow-ups) to ensure compliance with recommendations or remedial steps, if any

(iii) Our Investigative Principles

Our services are driven by the following principles:

Time is of the essence. We appreciate that a workplace investigation or resolution of workplace dispute must be timely, thorough and objective, while at the same time offer findings and recommendations that are not only accurate, but practical within the employer’s larger business and cultural environment.

One size does not fit all. We know from experience that not all workplaces are created equally, and clients are best served by an investigative or dispute resolution process that not only achieves legal compliance, but also reflects the client’s culture and furthers its operational objectives.

‘Process’ is as important as ‘outcome’. Courts and adjudicators have routinely commented on the need for workplace investigations to be performed in a thorough and impartial manner. We provide this service as a neutral, third party investigator with experience in all workplace matters.

Participants must be heard and respected. Participation in a workplace investigation or dispute resolution process is stressful. Not only for the immediate parties (e.g., complainant and respondent), but for their family and friends, co-workers, witnesses, and the organization itself. Our team appreciates the need for discretion and the importance of recognizing and respecting the sensitivities of the process and the individuals involved. We also understand that even with the best of intentions an individual’s experiences and cultural or religious background can profoundly impact his or her perception of the facts and trust in the process. We leverage our experience as a firm to ensure every participant is heard and respected.

The cost of an investigation/mediation should never be a barrier to achieving the appropriate result. Our team understands the cost of an investigation is often a factor that may affect a client’s decision whether to use an internal or external investigator. We will always work with our client to design and implement a plan that meets it operational objectives and budget.

It’s not about us. We have no aspirations to see our names in print. Instead, we consider ourselves to be trusted advisors – focussed on the most practical, cost effective, and discrete path.

Workplace Safety and Insurance

We have industry leading experience providing clients with education, assistance, management and representation in all Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (“WSIAT”) matters and related adjudication.

We have strong relationships with WSIB personnel, particularly with front line Case Managers, which assists clients to obtain the maximum level of co-operation. We are also regularly asked to serve as keynote speakers in leading employment and labour relations conferences on the topic of workplace safety and insurance, and publish on a variety of related issues.

We know from experience the consequences of poorly managed claims under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act can have a significant impact on an organization’s workplace, experience rating and, ultimately, adversely affect its financial interests. We also know the WSIB has recently increased its emphasis on returning injured workers to their pre-injury employers. This has resulted in increased proactive communication from the WSIB and increased pressure on pre-injury employers to find suitable employment for an injured worker. In our view, this pressure will only increase.

We work with employers to ensure all workplace injuries are managed in a timely manner to minimize the associated costs of WSIB claims. This may involve ensuring the employee is provided with a suitable modified work program, which is different from accommodation in the human rights realm. Common issues include (but are not limited to):

  • Compulsory and voluntary registration
  • Compliance audits
  • Accident investigation and reporting
  • Developing suitable modified work programs
  • Early and safe return to work and re-employment obligations
  • Employee compensation claims and reintegration programs
  • Rate group classification

We work with employers to ensure all workplace injuries are managed in a timely manner to minimize the associated costs of WSIB claims. This may involve ensuring the employee is provided with a suitable modified work program, which is different from accommodation in the human rights realm. Common issues include (but are not limited to):

  • Effectively challenge a WSIB claim from the outset if there is a credible basis to do so (including any necessary appeals)
  • Fully understand the client’s own obligations, as well as those of other workplace parties, including the injured worker
  • Have in place a robust and defensible return to work program, as well as strong health and safety policies and programs to avoid workplace injuries and their accompanying expenses

(see also Workplace Audits and Workplace Investigations )