Executives

What should I bring to my first meeting?

There is a list on what you should bring to the first meeting. Whetheryou are an executivemanager, or administrator you should gather and/or send us the following:

  • A brief summary of what you were earning and how it is broken down:
    • base,
    • bonuses/STIP,
    • RSUs/PSUs/Stock options/LTIPs,
    • benefits,
    • car allowance,
    • RRSPs,
    • other perks or advantages,
    • etc…
  • Your T4’s and RIs for the last two fiscal years
  • Any copies of your employment contract
What information should I submit in the contact form or over the phone?

You should let us know who you are (name, position, name of business), who you are contacting us for (yourself, your business, or on behalf of someone else), why you are contacting us/the nature of your problem. Provide any other details you think are necessary to explain. As executives and managers you should also make sure to tell us: your position title, your current salary, how long you have been employed there, the name of your employer, and whether you were recruited. If you are uncertain, here is a list of things you should include.

 If you are an executive or administrator at a school, please tell us the name of the school before giving us any other information including your name. We represent a number of schools in Montreal, and we do not want you to give us any information if we are already representing your employer. If you are an executive who thinks we might be representing your employer, you should do the same.

I feel like I’m being pushed out of my job and/or the decision making process at work. What do I do?

This may be a sign of constructive dismissal, age discrimination, or both. Regardless, it is a very big warning sign that unhappy changes to your employment are either upcoming or actively occurring.

 Being pushed out of the decision making process can be a sign of constructive dismissal, as are reductions in responsibilities, job title or salary. If you think you are being constructively dismissed you should contact an employment lawyer immediately because there is an extremely short delay period before your legal rights are extinguished.

 Being pushed out of the decision making process can also be a sign of age discrimination. Age discrimination is when older executives or managers are subjected to pressure to leave their position. This does not necessarily negate you being constructively dismissed, but age discrimination in and of itself is a targeted employment matter. Sometimes this targeted behaviour is subtle, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is even accompanied by harassment. No matter how it’s expressed, it is not acceptable behaviour.

The circumstances of my job have changed. Should I be worried?

This may be a sign of constructive dismissal. Warning signs of constructive dismissal can include (amongst other things):

  • Reduction in salary
  • Reduction in job title
  • Reduction in responsibilities

Constructive dismissal varies on a case by case basis. The trouble is that constructive dismissal has an extremely short delay period before you are deemed to have accepted the changes and lose your rights.

 

You do not have to actively accept the changes for the law to determine your consent. Employment law is tricky and constructive dismissal is complicated. If you don’t object to the changes within a short window of time then that is enough for the law to deem the changes have received your consent. This means that even if you have been constructively dismissed in fact, legally you will have no case and no leverage during settlement negotiations.

 

If you have experienced changes to your employment you should consult a lawyer specialized in employment immediately. It may be constructive dismissal or it may not, however you lose nothing by contacting a lawyer and you may lose your rights very quickly if you don’t.

What is age discrimination?

Age discrimination is when older executives or managers are subjected to pressure to leave their position. This can be done in many ways and can often (although certainly not always) be accompanied by other employment problems such as constructive dismissal or harassment. Signs of age discrimination can include (but are not limited to):

  • Being pressured to leave their position
  • Being shut out of important decision making circles
  • If positions are eliminated, theirs is among the first to go
  • Being subtly replaced in their roles by younger candidates
  • Loss of opportunities for promotion (older candidates not considered for advancement beyond their current position)
  • Excluded and/or marginalized at work
I think I may be in the process of being constructively dismissed but I’m not sure. Should I wait to contact a lawyer until I’m more certain?

No, contact an employment lawyer immediately. Constructive dismissal has an extremely short delay before your rights are extinguished. Waiting means that you may have destroyed your case. You lose nothing by contacting one of our employment lawyers: if you don’t have a case we will always tell you.

I’ve been let go. What do I do?

Contact an employment lawyer. If you have been offered severance pay then they can evaluate if it is a fair offer. If it is not adequate, then they can assess whether you have a case and negotiate for a fair settlement.

I’m worried I may be about to be let go. What do I do?

First things first: try not to panic. Next contact an employment lawyer immediately – ideally someone who specializes in executive dismissals. These are also a few steps you should follow:

  • Be extremely above board (if there is a spotlight then it’s important to be on your best behaviour)
  • Try to figure out why (this can help when planning strategy)
  • Document what is going on WITHOUT sending yourself any confidential information (no matter how innocent this will always look suspicious)
  • Do NOT download or send yourself any of your employer’s confidential information (this can be traced and used against you)
  • Get advice (from your employment lawyer) on strategies you can implement pre-dismissal
  • Put together your T4’s, RI’s, employment contract and LTIP information
  • Do not lose your temper or insult anyone
  • Do NOT discuss your situation with anyone still employed by your employer (it can be leaked back to your employer and/or twisted to use against you)
  • Do not sign anything before getting advice (once you’ve signed there is nothing you can do)

 A non-exhaustive list of signs that you should get help right away can include:

  • Being given a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)
  • Being given a poor performance rating
  • Being denied a raise or bonus that would normally have been given
  • Being unfairly criticized or threatened
  • Being summoned to a meeting with Human Resources (HR)
  • Being asked to do an impossible or impossible-to-accomplish project or tasks
  • Being blamed for situations that were clearly not your fault
  • Being shut out of important decisions or projects
  • Being marginalized at work
  • A change in demeanour from colleagues, particularly from your direct superior
  • Sudden negative changes to your working conditions or your workplace environment

 However, being on the ground, if you judge something is wrong it is best to be proactive, reach out and get advice.

I’ve been dismissed, constructively dismissed or pushed out after a short employment but I was recruited - does this make a difference?

Absolutely. If you were recruited then, depending on the exact circumstances, your employer could have been deemed to have acted under false pretences or even in bad faith. This is an aggravating factor and can greatly impact your case and your potential settlement. You should always mention whether you have been recruited to your employment lawyer – especially if you have been actually or effectively dismissed within a short period of time afterwards.

I’ve been fired for something I did wrong. Do I still have a case? Can I still be compensated?

That depends entirely on what you did wrong, under what grounds your employer is claiming your dismissal, and what compensation you have been offered (or whether you’ve been offered compensation at all). This is not a question that can really be answered in the theoretical. It is too complex and varies too widely on a case by case basis. You should contact an employment lawyer, explain the full circumstances and get their opinion on your specific situation. That is the only way you can really receive accurate advice.

I’ve been offered a severance package. How do I know if it’s fair?

Contact an employment lawyer. Employment lawyers specialize in employment law, so they are the best at judging your settlement offer from both a legal standpoint and a practical one. If it’s not fair, they are also in the best position to protect your interests and strongly negotiate for a fair settlement.

What are the legal remedies available to me if I’ve been constructively or wrongfully dismissed? Is there a “best” or “most practical” remedy?

Legal remedies are primarily compensation or reintegration.

 Is there a “best” remedy? Not really. Circumstances vary widely and what is best for one person may not be best for another.

 Is there a “most practical” remedy? Yes. There is almost always a remedy that is most practical in any given situation. What we have found is the most practical solution most frequently is compensation through negotiation. Negotiations are highly strategic and require a lot of different factors to be considered. However, the result is generally well worth the effort.

 When the other side can be encouraged to see reason, this is the solution that gives people the most money for the least stress and the least amount of time. Agreements are also, unlike litigation, not subject to appeals or revision so you have the closest thing to a guaranteed result that the legal system can grant you.

I’m being harassed at work or by at least one person from/through my work. What can I do?

This is not a situation which you should have to tolerate. To find the best way forward for you, you should contact a specialized employment lawyer immediately.

 We also have an entire section on what to do if you are being harassed which you should read. In the meantime, what you can do by yourself is:

  • Keep careful notes and documentation on everything that is occurring
  • Do not gossip about this in your workplace or to any coworkers, colleagues or people you know through work
I’m worried if I pursue my harasser or my employer for my being harassed that I will have trouble in my current job or finding a new one. Is this possible? What should I do?

First things first, no one should have to tolerate an abusive environment and that is exactly what harassment is: abuse.

 As for whether that is possible… Yes. It is. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be, but an ideal world also wouldn’t have harassment in the first place. In this world, that is a possible consequence to pursuing fair treatment for yourself. However, that does not mean that there is nothing you can do or that you should tolerate an abusive situation.

 The best thing you can do is to contact a specialized employment attorney. They can go over the specifics of your situation and advise you on what can be done to best help you.

I’ve been fired for something I didn’t do. Can I prove my innocence? What should I do?

That’s a very complicated question. Let’s break it down.

 The first thing you should do is contact a specialized employment lawyer. They will help you assess your situation, determine if anything can be done, and help you plan next steps.

 Proving your innocence is complicated. Let’s look at this from both a practical standpoint and a legal one.

 Legally, “innocence” can be a court or arbitration decision. This means that a judge or arbitrator listens to the facts and the arguments and then makes a legal decision/judgement. Depending on the case, the decision may not even legally state or even imply whether you are “guilty” or “innocent”. This all depends on the case, the arguments, and the arbitrator/judge. This process is not a quick one and can often take years. However, if you are referring to “innocence” based on what your employer says about you and the basis for needing a new job, that can possibly be determined via negotiation and (if the other side is reasonable) an agreement. This brings us to the practical point of view.

 Practically, your innocence may never be determined to your satisfaction. It is even possible to win your case without this ever being determined. So what happens next will depend largely on what is the best thing for you on a practical basis.

 If a solution that suits your needs can be negotiated this is the most practical solution. Often this takes the form of financial compensation negotiation and, there too, a good agreement may still not include any agreement on your “innocence”; this will depend on the nature of the negotiated agreement. Agreements involve compromise, which means you may not get everything you want. However, agreements also take less time, cause less stress, and involve less out-of-pocket cost. Overall, in most cases, it’s a far better idea.

 Sometimes, however, the other side is not reasonable and there can be no satisfactory negotiation. In those cases, compensation and/or your reputation may only be able to be determined through litigation. No matter what, the best way to find out what your options are and the best way forward is to consult an employment lawyer as soon as possible.

I have been accused of harassment and/or am being investigated for harassment. What happens now? What do I do?

The first thing you should do is contact an employment lawyer immediately. Harassment is a serious offence and allegations can have long-term consequences. Your lawyer will assess your situation and tell you what, if anything, can be done. In the meantime, you should make sure to follow these steps:

  • Do NOT discuss this situation with anyone employed by your employer
  • Do NOT confront your accuser or anyone else
  • Do NOT attempt to influence anyone
  • Do NOT retaliate against anyone
  • Do NOT attempt to resolve this yourself (get legal help)
  • Do NOT meet with any investigators or HR without getting legal advice first
How has COVID affected your law firm? The legal system? What has changed?

We are working remotely. Currently, we will not have any in person meetings. All information to be submitted to us must be done remotely.

 As for the legal system, most meetings and even most arbitrations are happening remotely. Aside from that, there have been a number of delays in the court system so it can take longer to have a date for a hearing.

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