The lawyers at Watershed LLP provide timely and practical human resources and labour relations support to management on a broader range of day-to-day issues. We recognize that many of the matters we are retained to assist with are sensitive and require immediate attention. We are committed to partnering with our clients to ensure that they are provided with timely, cost effective and practical (rather than theoretical) advice to assist in managing their day-to-day workplace issues.
In providing day-to-day advice to our clients we view our role as one of identifying legally possible options rather than simply pointing out problems and risk.
Our unique backgrounds and experience in law firms and industry allow for us to provide a holistic approach and perspective when offering day-to-day support.
Among other things we assist clients in the following areas:
We assist our clients through the entire hiring process, from recruitment to drafting the employment agreement and other hiring policies and documents including comprehensive policy manuals or discrete employment policies and procedures.
During the employment relationship
Issues arise during employment that require legal advice including, with respect to, employment standards, altering or modifying policies, practices and conditions of employment, progressive discipline, attendance and absenteeism management, and accommodation under the Human Rights Code.
For our unionized clients, we also provide advice and support on a full-range of collective agreement administration issues from interpretation of the collective agreement, to discipline and discharge, to managing the relationship with the union.
We provide our clients with advice with respect to individual and group terminations and documentation to assist in the implementation of these difficult business decisions in a manner that protects our clients interests while navigating the legal challenges and litigation risks.
Workplace Restructuring and Reorganization
Our experience as lead-Canadian counsel or as the lead in-house human resources practitioner in Canadian workplace restructuring initiatives (small, large, union and non-union) is extensive . As a result, we have acquired specialized and highly developed knowledge and experience when dealing with the implementation of these complex matters. We share this experience with our clients.
Change in the workplace raises a host of business and employee concerns. We have discovered that developing a practical and comprehensive strategy in advance and executing that strategy is critical to successfully implementing change in the workplace with the least disruption and cost. Far too often, we have observed that there is either no implementation strategy at all or, where one exists, it simply is impractical, raising more questions than answers.
Our unique backgrounds and experiences allow us to not only develop a plan that is legally sound and thought out, but which can also be implemented in the workplace in a practical and sensible way.
Preventing protracted litigation is our aim however, this is not always possible. Employees have an increasing number of options for litigating employment claims and we provide management with representation before every workplace tribunal in Ontario and in court.
We regularly appear before the Ontario Labour Relations Board with respect to applications and proceedings under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Employment Standards Act, 2000, in applications before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal under the Human Rights Code and in a variety of proceedings under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Tribunal.
We are regularly retained by clients, employers and other law firms to conduct workplace investigations into a variety of conduct alleged to have violated policies of one form or another including, for example, workplace harassment, violence, bullying, fraud and other conduct potentially giving rise to discipline or discharge.
Workplace and employee issues produce some of the most difficult and sensitive management challenges for any organization. Many large employers develop and implement policies and practices with the advice of an in-house Human Resources department. Smaller and mid-size companies may not have the in-house resources to develop, implement and execute on sound human resources practices.
Human Resources issues arise at every stage of the employment life cycle, from recruitment to administration of compensation and benefits, discipline and performance management training and development, change management initiatives and implementation of business decisions. Steven Mendelssohn, a practicing lawyer, spent twenty years in corporate Canada as a Vice President of Human Resources for some of Canada’s largest private sector employers. Through Steven’s experience, Watershed LLP assists clients with a wide range of Human Resources issues and has given us an understanding of the challenges facing human resource practitioners.
Whether it is a short-term engagement to assist with over-flow or a long-term large-scale project, our Human Resources experience positions us well to meet your business challenges.
In unionized workplaces the collective agreement sets out the terms and conditions of employment. Unlike any other negotiation, collective bargaining creates a unique workplace environment. There is an underlying tension between developing work rules that support the business direction and competitive position while still fostering a long-term relationship with the employees and union officials. In any other negotiation, you can walk away and develop a new business relationship with other parties. In collective bargaining, the employer, the union and its members are bound to one another. At Watershed LLP, we believe that thorough preparation and analysis, a sound understanding of both short-term and long-term business objectives, and proper management of the relationship at the bargaining table will allow our clients to meet their objectives.
Steven Mendelssohn has negotiated more than 200 collective agreements in both the private and public sectors across Canada with all of the major unions in virtually every sector of the economy. His experience and understanding of the collective bargaining process and his ability to develop relationships with all stakeholders allows him to achieve positive results for our clients.
Our experience providing training to employers as external counsel and in-house advisor tells us that the traditional lecture format is not an effective training and development tool. Instead, we provide customized and interactive training that incorporates substantive legal content with practical exercises and plain language. Our training is highly interactive and we avoid lecturing in favour of hands-on and relevant exercises that permits collaboration and group learning.
For the past 15 years, Michael Fitzgibbon has been an Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto where he teaches Employment Law at Woodsworth College and has been a sought after speaker by conference and seminar providers. Mike’s teaching philosophy respects the way adults learn complex concepts. He also understands that theoretical training cannot be executed on a day-to-day basis, and he is committed to providing clients with practical solutions that can be implemented, and not simply discussed.
Steve Mendelssohn has had in-house responsibility for training and development and has delivered countless training programs within a variety of organizations. His experience in delivering training, and as the client receiving training, from a variety of service providers has resulted in an approach to training that is highly practical and relevant to clients.
Our programs are custom designed for clients – we know you need relevant and practical training that will make a difference in your business operations. We firmly believe that one of the greatest opportunities for business is to ensure that front line supervisors and managers are well versed on identifying and managing complex workplace issues.
We have delivered programs on a variety of topics including: workplace investigations, managing under a collective agreement, collective bargaining, discipline and discharge, violence in the workplace, and absenteeism management, and positive employee relations, to name but a few.
To learn more about our training programs, please contact one of our lawyers.