Fitzgibbon Workplace Law represents employers exclusively and provides employment and labour law advice and representation in every workplace situation.
I provide proactive and preemptive strategic advice to union and non-union clients as an when required and in an effort to head off problems before they become costly and distracting legal issues. Getting in front of issues and managing the risk is preferred.
I aim to be hyper responsive – I answer the phone and I am available to help when you need it. The client testimonials emphasize that.
My philosophy is to approach workplace issues realistically, honestly and practically. I consider “possibilities” but focus on “probabilities” in any situation. I do not “over lawyer” files and add to the bill when a simple answer is sufficient and meets my clients’ objective. Although, on a personal level, I want to end the day smarter than when it started, I have practiced labour and employment law exclusively for 25 years and I have taught the subject at the University of Toronto to nearly 1000 students over 18 years. I’ve seen a lot in those years, and, in most cases, an approach, options and strategy can be provided fairly quickly.
Where the issue is complicated or requires a more detailed opinion or response, my experience allows me to conduct this quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to ensure not only a complete answer, but one that is on-point and not meandering down an academic or tangential road.
This approach applies irrespective of whether the workplace is union or non-union.
I represent union and non-union employers before every workplace Tribunal in the province of Ontario including before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario and the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In addition, I work extensively with unionized employers and represent them before rights arbitrators under collective agreements. I do not assist clients once a statement of claim (or application) is commenced against them under the Rules of Civil procedure. Although I have represented clients in countless matters before the courts and have significant litigation experience, I concluded nearly 10 years ago that clients were best served once a civil litigation proceeding was commenced, by a lawyer with not only civil litigation but trial experience who could guide the client strategically with that mindset. In those cases, I recommend trial counsel to the client and I remain available, if required, to assist in any way. This approach has not only been complimented upon by clients, but has served them well. I have never and will never take a so-called “referral fee” from the trial lawyers’ firm (something that is permitted under the Law Society of Upper Canada Rules of Professional Conduct) as my objective is not fees but that the client is looked after by the most qualified and experienced lawyer possible (even where that isn’t me).
Investigations are required, statutorily and otherwise, into a variety of workplace issues and complaints. For example, the Human Rights Code and the Occupational Health and Safety Act mandate that the employer promptly investigate allegations of workplace harassment, violence and discrimination.
Case law has developed that not only must the employer conduct the investigation promptly, but the investigation must be conducted by the right person. A botched, rushed, incomplete or biased investigation not only puts any conclusion at risk but has been taken into account in awarding exceptional damages to the employee, leaving aside the reputational harm resulting to the employer.
Some investigations can be (and should be) conducted internally by the employer, provided the investigator has experience and is not in any way connected to the dispute or otherwise biased.
In other cases, the complaint should be conducted by a third-party. I am an experienced investigator in many workplace disputes from violence, harassment, disciplinable conduct and fraud. I offer these services not only to clients but to non-clients alike.
I am a workplace mediator and member of the ADR Institute of Canada. I provide mediation services to represented workplace parties in non-union and union workplaces. Most employment law disputes are resolved before trial or adjudication on the merits.
In fact, I have found that it is often fruitful to hold a consensual mediation prior to litigation being launched in an effort to avoid that costly, time-consuming and distracting process. Where an early and consensual settlement of all matters that both parties have a hand in crafting, they can move on and put the issue and dispute in the past. Further, there are creative ways of resolving workplace disputes to provide for such things as mitigation and other contingencies that can be built into the settlement to provide comfort to all parties.