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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.