In this column, I have consistently opined that incompetence is not usually cause for dismissal and that poor performance should not affect severance. But I must admit that the law is not always this clear. What happens when a new recruit cannot perform the job he or she was hired for, despite training, patience and an investment in their performance? Unsatisfied clients have criticized him or her and you regret giving them the job in the first place. This human resources dilemma is not isolated – both employers and even other employees complain about it often.Read More
It sucks when bad things happen to good people. That is why I am relating the experience of my client below, hoping that her workplace scenario will not happen to you.
Happily employed for more than 17 years, my client received an unsolicited phone call from a headhunter encouraging her to interview for a more senior role at another company. Following a series of interviews where all of the basic terms of the job were discussed, including salary, title and starting date, my client was offered the job. She then resigned from her current position.
However, as is often the case, the headhunter later forwarded an employment contract containing some language that had not been discussed. This was the first problem. Unless an employment offer is made conditional upon signing a contract, it is too late to later send one, especially one with punitive terms.Read More
It’s possibly the worst fraud in workplace law – corporations, with expensive lawyers and deeper pockets, insisting that employees sign one-sided contracts that reduce their legal rights. And employees, without bargaining power or an understanding of the law, not realizing their interests have been undermined. This is the tale of one nameless client who may learn this lesson the hard way.Read More
Shortly after obtaining her real estate license, Marilyn Patterson found herself in a pickle. Patterson, a Customer Service Supervisor for the Bank of Nova Scotia in Pitt Meadows, BC, was summoned to a meeting and told that her work as a realtor may conflict with her employment at the Bank.
Patterson saw matters differently. She had previously performed other part-time work outside of the Bank and without any objection. Further, other employees at her branch had second or third jobs, which the Bank did not oppose.
When it came to her work as a part-time realtor, however, the Bank decided to take a stand arguing that by recommending financial services and products at the Bank, Patterson could be in a “potential” conflict with her work in real estate. Patterson was told to abandon her work as a realtor otherwise she would be fired.Read More
About to leave on a much-needed vacation, Lerae Bigelow thought she had made plans for just about everything. But when her boss demanded that she cancel her trip at the last minute, she realized there was one contingency she had overlooked – her own dismissal.Read More
One individual’s story, related below, should make people pause before hiring their next lawyer. Always enquire what percentage of a lawyer’s time is spent practicing in the area he or she is needed for – so that you do not pay for their education.Read More
Most employees cling to beliefs about workplace rights from media, friends or the Internet. But many of these “perceived” rights often do not exist. Here are some common misconceptions regarding severance and the law of dismissal.Read More
I am a 33-year-old professional who has recently been told, after 12 years, that my position has been eliminated. I work for a global company as a regional manager for North America, but am paid through our Canadian office. Just over a year ago, the organization was restructured and I was promoted from a supervisor in Canada to my new role reporting to a director in our U.S. office.
The vice-president of our Canadian facility to whom I use to report did not agree with the corporate directives I was responsible for implementing and we often had professional disagreements about the “old way of running things” versus our new corporate strategy. He made my new role so challenging that my director often had to intervene. Another restructure has just happened and our Canadian facility has now been given back to my old boss with all Canadian employees reporting directly to him.
I was told by HR that my position had been eliminated. My American boss said I could go home and continue to work from home and continue to be responsible for the three remaining departments I had in North America and remain on the Canadian payroll for two more weeks. Meanwhile, she is continuing to work with corporate to offer me a position working for the Americas with 70 per cent more travel.
I am now sitting at home wondering about my future while I mourn the loss of a position I held with many successes and much praise. I have no idea what will be presented to me in two weeks. What are my rights and what should I be prepared for when this meeting occurs?Read More
When I first started practising law, I received a complaint from a competitor who cautioned me against referring to myself as an “expert.” At the time I believed that her interests were conspicuously self-aligned, but many years later, I find myself making the same complaint about others. This is because the rules designed to protect individuals from lawyers’ misleading advertising seldom achieve their purpose – especially in the field of workplace law, where lawyers market directly to the general public.
If you are going to hire a lawyer for legal issues at work, here are some factors to consider.Read More
What happens if a just-dismissed employee is misled into signing a release that prevents him from taking further legal action? Will it matter if the employer took advantage of that employee’s vulnerability by steering him towards signing the document without pointing out that he had other choices? According to a recent Ontario case, employers have a duty to treat their employees fairly at the time of termination. Otherwise, even a signed document can be set aside.Read More