Employment Disputes: Strategies for Resolution
Employment disputes may arise for various reasons and escalate quickly if left unaddressed for too long. For employers, conflict with employees can negatively impact the workplace, employee morale and productivity, and public perception. For employees, a workplace dispute can lead to mental distress and even resignation or termination, which may create uncertainty in terms income and career prospects. For employers and employees, a workplace dispute can lead to costly and time-consuming litigation.
In the event of a workplace dispute, an employment dispute lawyer can use their knowledge, expertise and experience in Canadian employment law to secure the most efficient resolution before litigation even gets underway. The most common areas of workplace disputes include the following:
- Wrongful, constructive and for cause employment dismissals/terminations
- Disputes over severance packages and terms of dismissal
- The interpretation and enforceability of terms, conditions and clauses in employment contracts
- Workplace issues relating to violence, harassment, privacy, electronic media use, disability, medical leaves and absenteeism
An employment lawyer can provide both preventative guidance to de-escalate workplace disputes before they become unmanageable, and proactive strategies and advocacy in a variety of dispute resolution methods as outlined below.
Early Resolution of Employment Disputes
Employment lawyers can help resolve a workplace dispute at an early stage before they escalate, which is the best way to mitigate the risk of litigation for employers and help employees maintain their seniority and financial security, each of which can be lost if they seek alternate employment. However, even at the outset, an employment disputes lawyer will begin to develop a litigation strategy to prepare for every possibility in order to ensure that you are positioned for the greatest chance of success at any stage of a workplace dispute.
Resolving Employment Disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services include mediation, arbitration, and a combination of both called med-arb. Each process is generally more efficient and less expensive than going to trial. Rather than commence litigation, which can take years to resolve through the court system and cause the parties to spend time and money on unnecessary steps, ADR allows the parties to customize a resolution process that is tailored to the particular circumstances of your case.
Whether or not litigation has commenced or is threatened, mediation, which is a mandatory process for most civil cases in Toronto, Windsor and Ottawa, is an efficient means of resolving a workplace dispute that is quicker and less expensive than going before a judge. This is a reason why it is especially common in employment law matters.
Mediation gives the parties an opportunity to discuss their circumstances in the presence of a trained mediator, who acts as a neutral third-party that facilitates discussion between the parties in order to identify potential means of resolving the dispute. The goal of mediation is for the parties to reach an agreement on their own terms. While the mediator cannot force a settlement or provide legal advice, mediation has proven to be a successful tool in resolving employment law disputes at relatively early stages of the conflict, resulting in lower legal costs for the parties than if they were to proceed with litigation. Where the parties agree to settle during the mediation, and settlement funds are required under the minutes of settlement, payment can be made within two to three weeks.
Arbitration is a private and customizable trial-like procedure that is a hybrid between mediation and litigation. In an arbitration, the trier of fact is an arbitrator, who renders a binding decision on the parties. Given the trial-like procedures involved in arbitration, such as examinations for discovery, written submissions, examinations and cross-examinations, legal representation is recommended for all parties.
Where communications have completely broken down or the parties are unable to see eye-to-eye, litigation may be the only reasonable option for bringing the dispute to a resolution. Litigation offers the greatest potential damage awards, especially in contrast to claims that are brought before a tribunal.
Employment Tribunals – Employment Disputes
Administrative law tribunals are public bodies that manage specific disputes. Several tribunals are dedicated to resolving both labour and employment conflicts, including the following:
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario;
- Workplace Safety and Insurance Board;
- Workplace Safety and Appeals Tribunal;
- Canadian Human Rights Commission;
- Ontario Labour Relations Board; and
- Social Benefits Tribunal
Tribunals can be an effective and efficient venue for resolving workplace disputes, particularly with respect to human rights or workplace safety claims as there are generally minimal fees involved. On the other hand, tribunal awards offer significantly less compensation than litigation.
In the event of a workplace dispute, an employment disputes lawyer can help you determine the most appropriate method for pursuing your claim given the particular circumstances of your case.
Contact Achkar Law
If you are an employer or an employee who is involved in a workplace dispute, our team of experienced Employment Disputes Lawyers at Achkar Law can help.