If you find yourself in a situation that could significantly affect your employment relationship, you should consider seeking advice from an employment lawyer. If you are unsure, it is often worth checking with a legal professional. Often, they can provide you with relatively easy solutions that can help resolve the situation before things escalate and the relationship becomes irreparable. But if you are not proactive, it can cost you a lot more in the long run. The truth is, if you think you might need an employment lawyer, you probably do!
At Rudner law, we recognize that the employment relationship is an interpersonal one, not unlike a marriage. Hiring decisions are always challenging and terminations are always stressful, regardless of whether you’re an employee or an employer. Since we advise employers and employees, we can see both sides of a story and are committed to being impartial in all situations. However, when we’re on your side, we promise to give you practical, cost-effective advice and then fight tooth and nail to get you satisfactory results.
We do not offer free consultations. In fact, we don’t offer Consultations; we offer Strategy Sessions, which are detailed meetings structured for maximum value and effectiveness. They are designed to be comprehensive enough that, in many cases, you can walk away with enough information to resolve the issue without further involvement on our part, thereby saving you any additional costs. Legal advice is what we sell, so it is hard to justify giving it away for free.
Our Strategy Session is a fixed-fee process that involves reviewing the background and up to one hour of meeting time. The fee will depend on the level of experience of the lawyer you meet with, and will be fully disclosed and mutually agreed upon prior to meeting.
During the meeting, we will ensure that we understand the circumstances by reviewing your documentation and gathering relevant facts from you, provide you with our assessment of your case, explain your legal rights, outline your options, and work with you to develop the most appropriate strategy. Our goal is to ensure that, by the end of the Strategy Session, you will have an understanding of the legal principles involved, your rights and obligations, and the options and strategies available to you.
To ensure that you get the most out of your Strategy Session:
- Bring or send us a copy of your government-issued ID. The Law Society of Ontario requires that we confirm your identity and we will keep a copy in your client file at the firm.
- Before your meeting, be sure to send us any documents you think might be relevant to your case. This will allow the lawyer to get a sense of the issue beforehand, so that they can spend the time with you dealing only with the most important matters. Some examples of helpful documents are:
- Employment contracts
- Correspondence relating to a job offer
- Promotion letters
- Disciplinary warnings
- Termination letters
- A copy of any offer or release from an employer
- Create a timeline, especially in instances where you have time-related issues, such as unpaid overtime or bonuses.
- Come with an open mind. We know that many employment matters can be emotional and difficult to be objective about. We will provide our professional opinion, but it might not always be what you were expecting. We promise to do our best to get you a result that you are happy with but will always be honest with you about your position.
We sometimes consider a contingency arrangement in appropriate circumstances. After your initial Strategy Session, we assess your individual circumstances and determine whether a contingency arrangement would be practical for you.
When possible, we bill on a fixed-fee basis, which means that your fee will not be dictated by the time we spend working for you, but by the legal services you receive from us. This provides you with certainty about your legal costs and allows you to budget your expenses better.
Options can include fixed fees for specific projects like contracts or policies and block fees, where we divide a matter into phases and offer a fixed fee for each phase.
We also offer employers a monthly retainer option. This is best for clients who:
- Use our services more frequently,
- Want to develop strong relationships with our lawyers,
- Want to reduce risk, exposure to loss and unnecessary legal fees, and
- Want to budget legal expenses on a monthly basis
If our clients want to bill based on time, we make sure to maintain regular contact with them so as to provide a cost-benefit analysis at every stage. This can be beneficial in more complex cases, which might vary in the workload required.
We know that legal fees can be expensive, so we always consult our clients before making any large decisions. We never proceed with billing without mutual agreement on all sides and will always let you know if anything changes.
Our team has also designed a set of Starter Packages in order to help businesses get started with the strategic use of contracts and policies. The packages are designed to fit any business’ needs and budget, and they include
- detailed information regarding your policy and posting requirements, and
- explanations of the Employment law regime, and
- legal advice.
Our Subscription Service ensures that the policies in your Handbook remain up to date whenever there is a change to the law. If a change occurs, an updated version of the policy/policies will automatically be sent to you to replace the obsolete version in your Handbook.
While the vast majority of disputes are settled before getting to trial, we always ensure that our clients are ready to get if a trial or hearing is necessary. We do our best to avoid disputes but are well equipped to handle litigation if the situation calls for it. In a legal context, the best way to achieve a settlement is to prepare for trial and so we will be working towards putting you in the strongest possible negotiating position.
Since we act for employers and employees, we are able to anticipate what the other side will argue and respond. Stuart also acts as a mediator, giving him the ability to assess how a neutral third party, such as a judge, mediator or arbitrator, will view the situation. Stuart has also argued before the Supreme Court of Canada in Keayes v Honda in 2008, where the judge adopted most of his suggestions.
We are honest and zealous advocates at trial, but will also be honest with you about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. We will work with you to develop the best strategy in your case and will fight to get you the best possible outcome for you.
Your union is supposed to be your first line of defense in the event of any employment issues. The first thing you should do is find your collective bargaining agreement with your union, which outlines the conditions of your employment, such as hours, wages and overtime. It should also outline what steps you can take if your employer breaches the agreement. Your union is also bound to a duty of fair representation, which means they cannot make arbitrary, discriminatory or bad faith decisions about representing you. They are obligated to listen to your complaint and discuss it with you, consider what you want and make a fair and honest decision about what action to take.
However, your union does not have to agree with you. They don’t have to pursue each case or even do a particularly good job at representing you. Most of the time, you cannot simply hire your own lawyer and take your employer to court. However, in cases such as human rights violations, you should be able to get private representation and file a human rights application.
Even if you cannot hire private representation, independent legal counsel can help you to navigate your relationship with your union so as to encourage better representation for you. It is always best to be proactive and stay aware of your rights and obligations. Doing so allows you to better advocate for yourself and ensure a fair and just result.