Expertise

Genuine knowledge comes only through real-world experience. And when your organization – and your reputation – are threatened by critical labour and employment issues, from a major collective bargaining agreement to a wrongful dismissal action, there’s no room for anything else.

Since our inception in 1987, we have offered legal and consulting services in both official languages, and have provided our valued clients with specialized expertise, advice and advocacy that have set a new standard within the legal community.

Collective Bargaining

Emond Harnden has established a well-deserved reputation for assisting employers throughout all stages of the collective bargaining process.  Members of the firm are frequently retained to assist in collective bargaining. The firm’s role may involve representation at the collective bargaining table or ongoing advice with respect to development of contract language or bargaining strategies. Our lawyers regularly act as chief spokesperson in collective bargaining and provide representation at interest arbitration on behalf of both federal and provincial public and private sector employers.

In collaboration with management, our lawyers assist employers in determining their bargaining goals, strategies and mandates.  The firm’s Research Department provides in-depth research services such as collective agreement audits, sector-based wage and benefits surveys and research on specific terms and conditions of employment.   Our lawyers work collaboratively with employers in the overall preparation for bargaining, in the drafting of proposals and positions and in representing them at the bargaining table.  For employers that prefer to lead the bargaining, we act as a backroom advisor providing strategic legal advice and support.

Emond Harnden has a proven track record of navigating clients through difficult rounds of bargaining without work stoppages.  The relationships and rapport we have developed over the years with our union counterparts, counsel and representatives, has served us, and by extension our clients, well at the bargaining table.  Trust is critical to effective labour relations and we work hard with our clients to build and maintain that trust.

However, contingency planning is critical to successful bargaining outcomes. Our lawyers assist with preparing for possible strike management and preparing a strike protocol when impasse is reached at the bargaining table and strike/lockout occurs. This includes navigating the limited restrictions on the use of replacement workers and managing effective stakeholder communications, including the delicate matter of communications with striking employees.  We also help manage picket line activities and, when necessary, obtain injunctive relief, often on very tight timelines

In the event that conciliation, mediation or interest arbitration is required, we provide expert representation to management in presenting written and oral submissions and legal arguments on all outstanding issues between the parties before the relevant Boards or Tribunals.  We also can provide legal assistance to employers in managing the ratification and agreement implementation process.

Employment Contracts

Emond Harnden provides strategic legal advice to employers in negotiating and developing clear and precise employment contracts.  We draft employment contracts that effectively define the parameters of the employment relationship and limit the employer’s liability.   Our lawyers are experienced in developing compensation structures and packages that are tailored to suit the needs of the client, and the level of the employee.  We also routinely draft non-competition and non-solicitation clauses and agreements, as well as other employment-related agreements such as consulting agreements, confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements.

Employment Litigation/Wrongful Dismissal

Emond Harnden enjoys a reputation within the legal community as the “go to” firm for complicated employment litigation, including the defence of wrongful dismissal actions. Our lawyers bring a wealth of experience and expertise to all stages of such claims, including reviewing and responding to demand letters, negotiating settlements with plaintiff counsel, drafting statements of defence and other pleadings, attendance at examinations for discoveries, motions, pre-trial conferences, mediation and ultimately trial.

We bring a pragmatic approach that frequently allows us to achieve our client’s litigation objectives and successfully mediate settlements without the need to resort to trial.  However, the lawyers at Emond Harnden have a well-deserved reputation as effective litigators.  Members of the firm have successfully conducted countless trials, and have been involved in numerous notable cases that demonstrate our ability to successfully advocate on behalf of our clients.

Employment Standards

Emond Harnden provides expert legal advice to ensure that provincial and federal clients’ workplace policies and practices are compliant with the employment and labour legislated standards.  Members of the firm also appear before regulatory authorities on behalf of our clients on all matters relating to employment standards, including appeals.

We regularly assist clients in reviewing and/or drafting employment contracts and policies and procedures that are compliant with employment standards legislation. We provide representation and advice during employment standards audits and investigations. We advise clients on such employment standards issues as hours of work, overtime, averaging agreements, leaves of absence (including Pregnancy and Parental Leave) and reinstatement rights and obligation, notice of termination (individual and mass), severance, temporary layoff and recall and successor employer obligations.

Human Rights

Emond Harnden provides a full suite of services relating to workplace human rights issues.  We ensure that our clients comply with human rights legislation and we provide essential assistance in the development of human rights policies and the design and delivery of employee training programs.  We also have a proven track-record of providing expert and experienced legal representation for employers in the event of a human rights complaint.

The complexity of human rights issues is increasing dramatically as unions and employee counsel are stretching the traditional boundaries of human rights protection.  This trend will continue as tribunals, arbitrators and courts support some of these novel claims.  Our extensive knowledge of the human rights tribunals’ rules, practices and members, both at the provincial and federal levels, is an essential component in providing effective representation for our clients.  We provide employers with experienced and skilled representation throughout all stages of human rights complaints including investigations, mediations and the hearing stages.

Labour Arbitration

A substantive portion of our practice is representation of clients throughout the rights arbitration process including at grievance settlement meetings, mediations, and grievance arbitration hearings. Members of the firm attend countless grievance arbitration hearings on a yearly basis.  We are very familiar with labour relations counsel and trade union representatives and we utilize this knowledge to provide our clients with strategic and tactical advice at all stages of the dispute resolution process. Furthermore, we have excellent relationships with arbitrators and mediators across the country. Our understanding of their strengths, personalities and proclivities means that we can assist in selecting the arbitrator or mediator who is most appropriate for each particular matter.

This extensive experience also extends to interest arbitration.  In the event that the collective bargaining process does not result in an agreement between management and the union, the lawyers at Emond Harnden have the knowledge, expertise and resources to effectively represent management throughout the interest arbitration process and achieve the best collective agreement possible.

The field of labour relations has traditionally relied on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) techniques, such as arbitration, mediation and conciliation, to resolve workplace disputes.  Many of these ADR techniques regarded as innovative in other fields of law are everyday practice for the lawyers at Emond Harnden.  In fact, our lawyers have been very active in the growth of ADR throughout Canada, some being founding members of the Canadian Institute of Conflict Resolution.

Labour Board Proceedings

We have built a solid reputation for providing employers with expert representation before the Ontario Labour Relations Board (“OLRB”), the Canada Industrial Relations Board (“CIRB”) and the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board (“PSLREB”).  In addition to our command of the substantive law, our knowledge of the procedural law governing these matters enables us to provide strategic, effective and ultimately successful representation for our clients.

We regularly represent clients before these boards on a variety of matters including applications for certification, unfair labour practice complaints, illegal strikes or lockouts, sale of business/related employer applications, and requests for reconsideration of board’s decisions.

Occupational Health and Safety

Emond Harnden has developed a specialty in occupational health and safety that is unmatched.  Our lawyers have a wealth of experience assisting employers through all stages of the OHS process.  We regularly assist in the development of policies and procedures that are consistent with due diligence principles to protect organizations from prosecution under federal and provincial health and safety legislation and the Criminal Code.  We frequently provide support throughout the implementation of these programs and provide basic to in-depth training, depending on the client’s needs.

Our lawyers have a depth of experience appearing before tribunals and courts regarding OHS matters.  The firm provides litigation services, including representation on prosecution, appeals of health and safety orders, representation at arbitration of health and safety issues and Coroners’ Inquests. From the initial investigation to formal hearings/proceedings, our firm can confidently guide clients through the process and advise and represent them in all aspects.  The firm also provides strategic advice to organizations and their management during inspections or investigations of workplace accidents.

Pay Equity

Emond Harnden has extensive experience in assisting clients achieve and maintain pay equity.   We provide both advice and representation to federally and provincially regulated public and private sector organizations with respect to their pay equity obligations.  We regularly advise clients on compliance with pay equity legislation, and assist in developing and implementing pay equity policies and plans.

The firm regularly drafts and prepares responses to federal and provincial pay equity complaints, appears at fact-finding meetings, Review Officer meetings, mediation, conciliation and Tribunal proceedings at the Ontario Pay Equity Hearings Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

In providing clients with advice and representation with respect to their pay equity maintenance obligations our lawyers have assisted our clients in reviewing their compensation practices to guard against widening of the wage gap and ensure continued maintenance.

Pension and Benefits

Emond Harnden maintains its position at the forefront of the pension and benefits industry, fostering the development of pension, benefits and compensation law and policy across Canada.  We help our clients understand the legal and policy framework and to confidently anticipate and meet the challenges it presents.  We provide essential advice to clients in respect of all aspects relating to pension and benefits plans and assist clients in effectively and strategically managing the financial, fiduciary, regulatory and reputational risks inherent in sponsoring and maintaining such plans.  We also assist clients in developing and implementing legally sound strategies to contain costs.

The challenges and complexities arising from pension and benefits plans are diverse and complex.  Emond Harnden provides legal expertise in various areas of law as they relate to pensions including taxation, mergers and acquisitions, financing, privacy, governance and insolvency.

Workers' Compensation

The firm has an extensive workplace safety and insurance practice.  Workplace safety and insurance (workers’ compensation) cases are the complex intersection of occupational safety, employment and return to work issues. We assist our clients in the proactive prevention of these cases as well as in the practical management of accident investigation and reporting and return to work of injured workers.

Our lawyers have substantial experience in assisting clients to manage their workplace safety and insurance costs. These strategies include claims audits, claims management, classification reviews and occupational safety training.

The firm also communicates directly with the WSIB on behalf of our clients and provides representation before Appeals Resolution Officers and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal.

Workplace Investigations

Emond Harnden frequently assists clients with workplace investigations.  We can act as external investigator, or provide training to employers and management on how to conduct an effective workplace investigation.

Our lawyers have been actively engaged in various workplace investigations throughout their careers.  As external investigator, we work with the client to develop a clear mandate, then proceed to thoroughly review the complaint, assess the organization’s current policies and procedures, and conduct the investigation.   This includes interviewing all parties affected, and ensuring that any evidence is secured.  Following the investigation, we prepare a report with recommendations, and propose remedies for the situation.  Our firm has been and continues to be retained by national clients to manage their investigation files.

Our firm has developed a number of training workshops on conducting effective workplace investigations in general, as well as workshops focused on investigating complaints of harassment.

Workplace Policies

Emond Harnden assists its clients in developing and implementing a variety of programs and policies for the workplace.  Some of the policies are required by legislation, while others are simply best practices for employers.  In all cases, our lawyers have extensive experience in assisting management in drafting policies that will meet specific workplace goals and needs, while complying with applicable legislation.