For most businesses, employees are the life-blood of an organization. Without a stable workforce of qualified, dependable, trained and motivated employees, most businesses would have difficulty meeting their business goals.
In theory, if you have control over hiring, training and managing a workforce with consistent rules and guidelines, that workforce should be relatively stable. In reality, managing a group of individuals has far more variables.
Harris is one of the largest employment law firms in Western Canada. We’ve been practising employment law since the firm began in 1992. This has resulted in a remarkable body of knowledge, legal expertise, practical experience and set of internal resources. More than knowing the law, we also know its practical application in this context.
We also understand that employment issues often need immediate responsiveness. Our depth of experience means that we will know the best course of action and can quickly develop a strategy for response. Our precedents and other resources mean that documentation usually doesn’t have to be developed from scratch, saving even more time and expense.
Our clients include various private sector businesses as well as different public bodies in the province. Our clients are from many industries. It’s important to know the law, but it’s even more critical to connect actions to longer-term strategic outcomes. We take the time to understand the culture and business climate of each of our clients, allowing us to find solutions that meet our clients’ broader goals.
We provide employment law advice on the following issues and items:
- Documents outlining employees’ terms of employment, such as written employment agreements and offer letters;
- Documents outlining employees’ post-employment obligations and restrictive covenants, including non-competition and non-solicitation provisions;
- Independent contractor agreements;
- Employment policies, employee handbooks, and codes of conduct;
- Investigations into complaints of employee misconduct or harassment, and following up on reports from whistle blowers or other third-party sources;
- Employee terminations, including just cause and without cause dismissals and severance or notice issues;
- Demands for additional severance and other items by former employees;
- Wrongful dismissal lawsuits;
- Unjust dismissal and employment standards complaints;
- Injunction applications including those regarding unlawful picketing or breach of post-employment obligations;
- Judicial review applications to court regarding decisions of administrative tribunals, eg. labour relations boards, human rights tribunals, employment standards tribunals, the WCB, and arbitrators;
- Appeals to the BC Court of Appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada; and
- Disability plan administration, including disputes over overpayment of benefits, coverage and denial of claims.
Given the focus of our practice, we are able to stay on top of legal developments and cases in the employment law area. Most recently, this has included issues relating to medical marijuana, drug testing for safety sensitive positions, and minimum wage issues.
We know that in the case of a dispute, the best resolutions are those that are consistent with the business’s overall goals and which avoid undue time and expense. For this reason, our preferred approach is to serve as business partners (as opposed to hired guns) with our clients, providing ongoing advice over time to manage any risks that might arise. This helps our clients to take a preventative approach, while also ensuring we can assist with any immediate legal needs.
That said, while our focus is on proactive, preventative advice where possible, we will serve as strong advocates in the courtroom when required.