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 and 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 exceedingly 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 nearly 30 years and I have taught the subject at the University of Toronto to over 1000 students for nearly 25 year. 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.
Although I have nearly 30 years of advocacy experience, and have represented clients in countless matters before the courts and administrative tribunals, I have decided that my experience can best be applied in providing clients with preventive and strategic advice that is designed to avoid litigation altogether by putting in place realistic and defensible policies and practices or by resolving cases and issues when they arise quietly, quickly and cost effectively when possible and appropriate. As such, I no longer provide clients with advocacy services before administrative tribunals, labour arbitrators or courts.
This does not mean settling at any cost. It also does not mean that every case should be settled (some cases shouldn’t be settled). My approach is to conduct an early assessment of the particular case or issue, and develop and map out a recommended strategy that is suitable to achieve the client’s specific objectives and instructions.
A solicitors mindset is very different from the one adopted by barristers (i.e. litigators). To the extent that the employer is sued (broadly defined), I can and do assist my clients in finding and retaining the most suitable lawyer to litigate the case. Just as each client is different, each lawyer is different and there are no “one size fits all” relationships.
My objective is to ensure that the client is looked after by the most qualified and experienced lawyer possible (even where that isn’t me). The feedback I’ve received is that this approach provides clients with the best of both worlds.
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.