Employment Law and Litigation
The courts can be a powerful tool for workers and organizations seeking to enforce their legal rights. At Cavalluzzo, our civil litigators have assisted unions, individual employees, associations, professionals, pension plans, investors, benefit trust funds and other organizations in advancing their interests through a range of creative and important litigation in the courts.
Our lawyers also advise individual non-unionized employees at every stage of the employment relationship: from reviewing an offer of employment to wrongful dismissal. We represent employees from all walks of life, including the financial services industry, manufacturing, public service, the health and education sectors.
Our lawyers have experience negotiating with and litigating against major boards, utility companies, non-profit organizations and IT firms. Our employment law practise spans the country and is multi-national: we represent people with employment law issues connected to Canada working around the World.
Our employment advice and advocacy includes:
- advising and litigating wrongful dismissal and constructive dismissal claims, including class actions;
- enforcing Ontario and Federal legislation on collective bargaining, employment standards, human rights, occupational health and safety, workers compensation;
- advising on human rights compliance, including pay and employment equity plans for workplaces and alternative dispute resolution measures;
- reviewing and negotiating severance "packages" on termination;
- preparing and negotiating employment contracts;
- advising employees on workplace obligations including confidentiality and fiduciary obligations;
- defending employees against ex-employers alleging breach of restrictive covenants, such as non-compete and non-solicitation clauses;
- acting for unions in strike and lockout injunction litigation;
- representing employees and unions in bankruptcy and insolvency trusteeship proceedings; and
- prosecuting litigation against government entities that abuse their authority.
Notable representations include:
- Michela v. St. Thomas of Villanova Catholic School, which involved three teachers' wrongful dismissal claims. The school argued that its financial circumstances should be considered when determining reasonable notice. The Court of Appeal disagreed, holding that an employer's financial circumstances are not relevant to the determination of reasonable notice. Michela is now one of the leading wrongful dismissal decisions in Canada, and appears to have ended a thirty-year debate as to whether an employer's financial picture is relevant in wrongful dismissal cases.
- Oliveira v. Aviva Canada Inc., which is the first Canadian case to consider an insurer's obligations in the face of ever-increasing attempts to hold employees liable for privacy breaches, in which the Firm represented a nurse who had been sued by a patient for alleged breaches of privacy in the workplace. The nurse sought coverage and legal defence from her insurer, which refused. The Superior Court held that the insurer was obligated to defend the claim. The Court of Appeal agreed.
- Horne v. Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, in which Dr. Gabrielle Horne, a cardiologist and research scientist, alleged that the hospital, among others, wrongfully varied her privileges on an emergency basis, causing substantial damage to her reputation and her career as a researcher. After an eight-week jury trial, the jury found that the hospital had acted in bad faith and awarded Dr. Horne $1.4 million in reputation damages. The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the jury's finding of bad faith, but reduced the damages award, which remains the largest award of reputation damages in Canada outside for a non-defamation claim.
- McMichael v The New Zealand & Australian Lamb Company, in which the Court awarded 22 months' notice to a senior executive with 12 years' service. This decision is notable for the complex cross-border issues raised, as the plaintiff was employed by a US company headquartered in Connecticut, was working in California, but had an employment agreement governed by Ontario law.
- Legg v. Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, in which the Court of Appeal for Ontario considered whether an indemnification clause in an employee agreement was enforceable against the employer in connection with legal fees incurred as a result of an internal investigation. Cavalluzzo won a significant victory for Ms. Legg in one of the only reported decisions in Canada concerning these clauses.
- Partridge v. Botony Dental Corporation, in which the Court of Appeal considered whether the employer had wrongfully dissed our client, a dental hygienist, when it refused to return her to her original position upon returning from maternity leave, deliberately increased her work to conflict with her child care obligations and then purported to terminate her employment for cause. The Court of Appeal agreed with the Superior Court's decision that the employer had no evidence to support its allegations of cause and award of 12 months' reasonable notice damages and human rights damages.
- Fioravanti v. OLG, in which Cavalluzzo acted for Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's former General Counsel, and one of its most senior executives. Cavalluzzo was entirely successful on the question of OLG's liability to this executive concerning his exit agreement with the company.
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