Labour and Employment

Overview

For over forty-five years, we have represented the interests of employers of both federally and provincially regulated companies in the public and private sectors. Our clientele is composed of local, national, and international companies and institutions in a wide range of economic sectors.

Lavery has more than forty lawyers practicing exclusively in the area of labour and employment law, including specialists in pension plans, human rights, occupational health and safety, labour relations, and employment law. The extensive experience and skills of these specialists are widely recognized in the field of labour law. Lavery’s expertise in this field is recommended by the Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory.

When appropriate, these experts work with other lawyers specialized in privacy law, the protection of personal information, and the immigration of skilled workers, whose expertise may be required to resolve complex issues arising in the workplace. Our clients can thus count on the skills of a strong, thorough, multidisciplinary team.

The services offered by our team cover every aspect of labour law, from providing strategic advice to representation before administrative and judicial bodies and the negotiation of agreements.

Services

Labour law

  • Strategic advice, particularly on mergers and acquisitions and business turnaround
  • Negotiation of collective agreements
  • Grievance and dispute arbitration
  • Representation in matters involving penal complaints
  • Mediation in all its forms
  • Negotiation support in matters involving dismissal and termination of employment
  • Extraordinary remedies, judicial reviews, injunctions
  • Assistance with matters involving pay equity and employment equity programs
  • Representation in all matters pertaining to union certification
  • Management of work attendance and job performance

Employment law

  • Strategic advice, particularly on mergers and acquisitions and business turnaround
  • Negotiation and drafting of employment agreements and complementary agreements such as non-compete and non-solicitation agreements and agreements to assign intellectual property rights
  • Advice regarding privacy and the protection of personal information in the workplace
  • Representation in complaints made under the Employment Standards Act, including complaints of psychological harassment and dismissal without good and sufficient cause
  • Mediation in all its forms
  • Assistance and representation in matters involving dismissal and termination of employment
  • Extraordinary remedies, judicial reviews, injunctions
  • Management of work attendance and job performance

Human rights

  • Strategic advice
  • Assistance and representation in matters involving complaints filed with Québec's Commission de la personne et de la jeunesse
  • Representation before Québec's Commission de la personne et de la jeunesse and the Human Rights Tribunal

Occupational Health and Safety

  • Financing
  • Compensation
  • Management of occupational injury files
  • Reconciliation of industrial accident files
  • Representation before the courts

Advisory role

  • Advise managers on general issues related to the laws and principles governing labour relations, human rights, and occupational health and safety
  • Assist managers in the administration of collective agreements
  • Analyze the financial and organizational impact of management decisions regarding labour relations
  • Analyze financial issues related to workers' compensation claims including the financial impact of the imputation of the cost of benefits required under the Act
  • Regularly update managers on changes to legislation governing labour, human rights, and occupational health and safety
  • Offer personalized training of managers based on their needs and those of the organization

Our team recommends a practical, pro-active approach to quickly resolving problems. When litigation or confrontation becomes inevitable, however, our experts are prepared to diligently and efficiently promote the best interests of employers.

Top Ranked Chambers Canada Lavery Lawyers

Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  1. The return of Christmas parties: what employers need to know

    After two years of navigating COVID-19, the end of 2022 will be an opportunity for employers to organise larger activities for their employees, such as Christmas parties. The purpose of this newsletter is to make employers aware of their obligations during the holiday season festivities. Below, we will address the following three issues: industrial accidents, disciplinary measures and psychological harassment. Although Christmas parties are generally held outside of the workplace and outside normal working hours, an incident that occurs on such an occasion may qualify as an “industrial accident” within the meaning of the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases.1 Courts will consider several factors in weighing whether or not such an incident will constitute a work-related accident, including the purpose of the party, the time and place where it was held, whether or not it is organized and financed by the employer, and the presence or absence of a relationship of subordination at the time of the incident. None of these factors are decisive: they serve as a guideline for the tribunal. As many decisions have both granted2 or rejected3 claims in such circumstances. In one case where a Christmas party had been organized by the employer and was intended to encourage a sense of cohesion and belonging amongst the employees, an injury to the coccyx suffered by an employee while dancing with a co-worker was qualified as an industrial accident.4 However, in another case where an employee was injured on an escalator while escorting a drunken co-worker after a Christmas party, the tribunal ruled that the female employee had not suffered an industrial accident due to the absence of authority exercised by the employer at the time of the fall and also because the event was only intended to permit colleagues to fraternize and spend time together and not to improve the work environment.5 In the context of its management rights, an employer may, in certain circumstances, discipline an employee for behaviour which occurred during a Christmas party.6 The degree of the employer’s involvement in the organization of the party and the private nature of the party are important factors in determining whether the employer is justified in imposing disciplinary measures in such a context. For example, an arbitrator upheld the dismissal of an employee who repeatedly hit a colleague and former spouse during the employer's Christmas party held on its premises.7 The fact that the violent acts were committed during a party rather than in the direct context of work was not considered a mitigating factor. This disciplinary power is part of the employer's obligation to ensure a violence-free workplace. This obligation has gained in importance since the recent addition to the Act respecting occupational health and safety8 of the employer's obligation to “take the measures to ensure the protection of a worker exposed to physical or psychological violence, including spousal, family or sexual violence, in the workplace”.9 In another case, the arbitrator concluded that the employer could not discipline an employee for acts committed at a Christmas party organized and entirely financed by the employees and which took place outside the workplace.10 On another note, a single act of serious conduct at a Christmas party may constitute psychological harassment. A complaint for psychological harassment was upheld against an employer in a situation where the owner had touched the breast of an employee by slipping an ice cube into her sweater.11 This contact, a single gesture, was qualified by the arbitrator as serious conduct amounting to psychological harassment. The arbitrator also concluded that excessive alcohol consumption had no mitigating effect on the seriousness of the act committed. Sexual comments, forced touching and kissing by an employee during the Christmas party were also deemed to constitute psychological and sexual harassment by the courts justifying, in certain circumstances, dismissal.12 Conclusion In light of the foregoing, an employer must exercise caution and adopt measures to reduce the risks associated with the organization of Christmas parties, given that they may be held responsible for accidents or various acts or behaviour that occur during such gatherings. [1] CQLR, c. A-3.001, s. 2. [2] See in particular Fafard et Commission scolaire des Trois-Lacs, 2014 QCCLP 6156; Battram et Québec (Ministère de la Justice), 2007 QCCLP 4450. [3] See in particular Environnement Canada et Lévesque, 2001 CanLII 46818 (QCCLP), par. 35-39; Desjardins et EMD Construction inc., 2007 QCCLP 496. [4] Boivin et Centre communautaire juridique de l'Estrie, 2011 QCCLP 2645 [. [5] Roy-Bélanger et Ressources Globales Aéro inc., 2021 QCTAT 1739 [Quebec’s Tribunal administratif du travail]. [6] Teamsters Québec, section locale 1999 et Univar Canada ltée (Jean-Martin Gobeil), 2020 QCTA 344 (L. Viau). [7] Travailleurs et travailleuses unis de l'alimentation et du commerce, section locale 500 (TUAC-FTQ) et Royal Vézina inc. (St-Hubert) (Hicham Alaoui), 2017 QCTA 304 (F. Lamy). [8] CQLR, c. S-2.1. [9] Act respecting occupational health and safety, CQLR, s. 2.1, a. 51, par. 1 (16). This obligation was added pursuant to the Act to modernize the occupational health and safety regime (2021, c. 27, a. 139), [10] Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec et Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (Joffrey Lemieux), 2021 QCTA 439 (C. Roy). [11] S.H. et Compagnie A, 2007 QCCRT 0348, D.T.E. 2007T-722 (T.A.) (F. Giroux). [12] Pelletier et Sécuritas Canada ltée, 2004 QCCRT 0554 (M. Marchand).  

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  2. CNESST – Transfer of Costs Under Section 326 of the Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases: Important Decision from the Tribunal

    Employers subject to the personalized rate or retrospective rate regime know how important it is to control the costs related to occupational injury cases in order to limit the impact on their annual premiums. One way to attain this objective is to apply for a transfer of costs under section 326 of the Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases. Indeed, the CNESST may, “on its own initiative or on the application of an employer, impute the cost of benefits payable by reason of an industrial accident to the employers of one, several or all units if the imputation under the first paragraph would have the effect of causing an employer to support unduly the cost of benefits due by reason of an industrial accident imputable to a third person or unduly burdening an employer.” Traditionally, in cases involving the undue burdening of an employer, the CNESST would not process applications for transfers of costs under section 326 as long as the end date of the transfer period remained unknown. This could be detrimental to an employer’s cash flow, especially if the application remained unprocessed and the situation continued to exist over several months, even worse, for years. The recent Corporation d’Urgences-santé1 decision could, in certain circumstances, provide employers with a tool to convince the CNESST to render decisions without an end date for the transfer period. In this file, where Lavery Lawyers represented the employer, the worker could not be temporarily assigned to light duties because of his caregiver status. At the time of the hearing, the employee was still acting as a caregiver and the Tribunal was not in a position to know when the impediment might end. When asked to rule on its jurisdiction and powers, the Tribunal accepted our proposal that the transfer be granted, but that it remains the CNESST’s responsibility to determine the end date of the transfer period. The tribunal ruled that such date ultimately corresponds to the date on which the worker ceases to be incapable of undergoing temporary light-duty assignment due to his caregiver status.   Thus, in its decision, the Tribunal recognizes the employer’s right to benefit from a transfer of costs since January 1, 2022, as a result of the employee’s caregiver status. This allows the employer to reduce immediately its financial burden up and until the CNESST renders a decision to establish the date of the occurrence of the event giving rise to the end of the transfer. This is the first decision to be rendered on the issue. It opens the door to a number of possibilities, including requiring the CNESST to make a ruling on a cost transfer application before the full transfer period can be determined. However, this type of application with the CNESST will require case-by-case analysis, as certain conditions must be met for the application to be admissible.  If you are dealing with a similar situation requiring special attention, do not hesitate to contact a member of our labour law department specializing in workers’ compensation matters. They will be able to assist you with any questions relating to the management of these cases, whether or not they are the object of litigation. 2022 QCTAT 4634

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  3. Ten things you should know about the amendments to Quebec’s Charter of the French language

    Quebec recently enacted Bill 96, entitled An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Québec, which aims to overhaul the Charter of the French language. Here are 10 key changes in this law that will impose significant obligations on businesses: As of June 1, 2025, businesses employing more than 25 people (currently the threshold is 50 people) for at least six months will be required to comply with various “francization”1 obligations. Businesses with between 25 and 99 employees may also be ordered by the Office québécois de la langue française (the OQLF)2 to form a francization committee. In addition, at the request of the OQLF, businesses may have to provide a francization program for review within three months. As of June 1, 2025, only trademarks registered in a language other than French (and for which no French version has been filed or registered) will be accepted as an exception to the general principle that trademarks must be translated into French. Unregistered trademarks that are not in French must be accompanied by their French equivalent. The rule is the same for products as well as their labelling and packaging; any writing must be in French. The French text may be accompanied by a translation or translations, but no text in another language may be given greater prominence than the text in French or be made available on more favourable terms. However, as of June 1, 2025, generic or descriptive terms included in a trademark registered in a language other than French (for which no French version has been registered) must be translated into French. In addition, as of June 1, 2025, on public signs and posters visible from outside the premises, (i) French must be markedly predominant (rather than being sufficiently present) and (ii) the display of trademarks that are not in French (for which no French version has been registered) will be limited to registered trademarks. As of June 1, 2022, businesses that offer goods or services to consumers must respect their right to be informed and served in French. In the event of breaches of this obligation, consumers have the right to file a complaint with the OQLF or to request an injunction unless the business has fewer than five employees. In addition, any legal person or company that provides services to the civil administration3 will be required to provide these services in French, including when the services are intended for the public. As of June 1, 2022, subject to certain criteria provided for in the bill, employers are required to draw up the following written documents in French: individual employment contracts4 and communications addressed to a worker or to an association of workers, including communications following the end of the employment relationship with an employee. In addition, other documents such as job application forms, documents relating to working conditions and training documents must be made available in French.5 As of June 1, 2022, employers who wish to require employees to have a certain level of proficiency in a language other than French in order to obtain a position must demonstrate that this requirement is necessary for the performance of the duties related to the position, that it is impossible to proceed using internal resources and that they have made efforts to limit the number of positions in their company requiring knowledge of a language other than French as much as possible. As of June 1, 2023, parties wishing to enter into a consumer contract in a language other than French, or, subject to various exceptions,6 a contract of adhesion that is not a consumer contract, must have received a French version of the contract before agreeing to it. Otherwise, a party can demand that the contract be cancelled without it being necessary to prove harm. As of June 1, 2023, the civil administration will be prohibited from entering into a contract with or granting a subsidy to a business that employs 25 or more people and that does not comply with the following obligations on the use of the French language: obtaining a certificate of registration, sending the OQLF an analysis of the language situation in the business within the time prescribed, or obtaining an attestation of implementation of a francization program or a francization certificate, depending on the case. As of June 1, 2023, all contracts and agreements entered into by the civil administration, as well as all written documents sent to an agency of the civil administration by a legal person or by a business to obtain a permit, an authorization or a subsidy or other form of financial assistance must be drawn up exclusively in French. As of September 1, 2022, a certified French translation must be attached to motions and other pleadings drawn up in English that emanate from a business or legal person that is a party to a pleading in Quebec. The legal person will bear the translation costs. The application of the provisions imposing this obligation has, however, been suspended for the time being by the Superior Court.7 As of September 1, 2022, registrations in the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights and in the Land Registry Office, in particular registrations of securities, deeds of sale, leases and various other rights, must be made in French. Note that declarations of co-ownership must be filed at the Land Registry Office in French as of June 1, 2022. The lawyers at Lavery know Quebec’s language laws and can help you understand the impact of Bill 96 on your business, as well as inform you of the steps to take to meet these new obligations. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the Lavery team members named in this article for assistance. We invite you to consult the other articles concerning the modifications made to Quebec’s Charter of the French language: Trademarks and Charter of the French language: What can you expect from Bill 96? Amendments to the Charter of the French Language: Impacts on the Insurance Sector “Francization” refers to a process established by the Charter of the French language to ensure the generalized use of French in businesses. The OQLF is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Charter of the French language. The civil administration in this law includes any public body in the broad sense of the term. An employee who signed an individual employment contract before June 1, 2022, will have until June 1, 2023, to ask their employer to provide them with a French translation if the employee so wishes. If the individual employment contract is a fixed-term employment contract that ends before June 1, 2024, the employer is not obliged to have it translated into French at the request of the employee. Employers have until June 1, 2023, to have job application forms, documents related to work conditions and training documents translated into French if these are not already available to employees in French. Among these exceptions are employment contracts, loan contracts and contracts used in “relations with persons outside Quebec.” There seems to be a contradiction in the law with regard to individual employment contracts which are contracts of adhesion and for which the obligation to provide a French translation nevertheless seems to apply. Mitchell c. Procureur général du Québec, 2022 QCCS 2983.

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  4. Confinement in an institution: a judge must intervene where evidence is insufficient

    In a judgement rendered on June 3, 2022,1 the Court of Appeal of Quebec reiterated that a judge who has an application for confinement in an institution before them must inform the parties when they consider that the psychiatric reports filed are insufficiently detailed. In these circumstances, the Court must allow the parties to remedy deficiencies in the evidence rather than dismissing the application. The Court of Appeal based its reasoning on the following articles: Article 268 of the C.C.P.2 allows a judge to draw a lawyer’s attention to any deficiency in the proof of procedure and authorize the parties to remedy it, especially when the judge notes that the insufficient evidence concerns an essential element and could affect the outcome of the dispute. Article 50 of the C.C.P. gives judges the power, even on their own initiative, to require the attendance of witnesses or the presentation of evidence. Given the importance for a judge to make an informed decision, both with respect to a patient’s personal integrity and in assessing the danger they may pose to themselves or to others, the Court of Appeal considers that a judge has an obligation to exercise their discretionary power and require the attendance of one or even both psychiatrists who signed the reports filed in support of an application.  In 2009, the Court had previously concluded that a judge in charge of ruling on an application for confinement in an institution is at liberty to [translation] “report, at the time of the hearing, that the references indicated in two sections of the form used by physicians to prepare a psychiatric examination report for an order of confinement in an institution—one concerning the reasons and facts upon which the physician has based their opinion and the other the assessment of the seriousness of the condition and its likely consequences for the patient and for others—appear to them to be insufficient.”3 It appears that this issue has been taken a step further, as the Court has concluded that the discretion granted by articles 50 and 268 of the C.C.P. must be exercised in order to give the health institution applying for confinement the opportunity to complete its evidence. Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais v. J.L., 2022 QCCA 792 Code of Civil Procedure, CQLR c. C-25.01. (C.C.P.) Centre de santé et de services sociaux Pierre Boucher v. A.G., 2009 QCCA 2395, para. 38.

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  1. Catherine Deslauriers, Guy Lavoie, Éric Thibaudeau and Lavery named as a reference by the 2022 Canadian Occupational Safety – 5-Star Safety Lawyers & Law Firms

    July 12, 2022 – Catherine Deslauriers, Guy Lavoie, Eric Thibaudeau and Lavery have been named as a reference in Occupational Health and Safety by Canadian Occupational Safety – 5-Star Safety Lawyers & Law Firms. To determine the best lawyers and law firms catering to the safety industry, Canadian Occupational Safety sourced feedback from safety leaders over a period of 15 weeks. COS’s research team began by conducting a survey with a wide range of safety officers to determine what companies value in the law firms they collaborate with.

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  2. Lexpert recognizes two partners as leading workers’ compensation lawyers in Quebec

    On February 10, 2021, Lexpert unveiled the identity of Québec’s leading lawyers in the field of workers’ compensation. Two Lavery partners, Guy Lavoie and Éric Thibaudeau, appear among the top lawyers in this area of practice. Guy Lavoie is a partner with the Labour and employment law group. His clients’ business concerns are always a priority when he proposes strategies and alternatives designed to resolve their problems. With over 30 years’ experience in labour relations, employment law, and occupational health and safety, he appears regularly before various administrative tribunals. He also works with the firm’s Business law group on the labour and employment law aspects of mergers and acquisitions. Éric Thibaudeau is a partner and a member of the Labour and Employment Group. He has special expertise in the area of occupational health and safety, regarding issues within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Labour Tribunal (ALT) as well as penal infractions prosecuted by the CNESST that are heard in the Court of Québec’s Criminal and Penal Division. He also acts for employers in grievance arbitrations, labour-relations matters and collective agreement decrees. In addition, he advises construction contractors and project owners on all matters within the jurisdiction of the construction industry regulatory authorities, such as the Commission de la construction du Québec and the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.

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  3. Lavery's expertise recognized by Chambers Canada 2021

    Lavery has been recognized in the following fields as a leader in the 2021 edition of the Chambers Canada guide: Corporate/Commercial (Québec Band 1, Highly Regarded) Employment and Labour (Québec Band 2) Energy and Natural Resources: Mining (Nationwide Band 5) The lawyers and law firms profiled in Chambers Canada are selected following through a rigorous process of research and interviews with a broad spectrum of lawyers and their clients. The final selection is based on clearly defined criteria such as the quality of client service, legal expertise, and commercial astuteness. Learn more about our professionals who have once again been recognized in Chambers Canada Guide 2021.. 

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