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Employment Law

Sensible Advice From Experienced Calgary Employment Lawyers

We have one of the largest groups of employment lawyers in Calgary. This gives our clients a wide selection of employment lawyers at all levels of experience. The size of our employment law group and our varied experience allows us to get the best outcome for our clients in the most timely and cost-effective manner.

At Carbert Waite LLP we recognize how challenging employment disputes can be from an emotional as well as legal perspective. Our experienced employment lawyers work with and support our clients every step of the way.

Although we are based in Calgary, our lawyers can deal with employment law matters anywhere in Alberta and across western Canada.

Areas of Employment Law

We advise and represent employers and employees in all areas of employment law, including:

Employment Law Services for Employers

Responsible employers don’t wait for disputes to arrive. Proactive employment practices help Alberta employers avoid legal claims before they start and deliver a recurring return on investment by reducing downstream legal costs. Some conflicts will be unavoidable and having workplace policies and codes of conduct in place will help defend your business if a claim is made. 

Our team of experienced employment lawyers provide a full spectrum of legal services and advice for employers that are looking to build out their internal practices or address disputes that emerge in the workplace. From drafting employment agreements to remote work or social media guidelines, our lawyers can advise you on the real-world practices to ensure that both your business, and your employees are protected. 

In the event a claim is made against your business, our knowledgeable and sensible lawyers have years of experience defending employers. We routinely navigate a wide variety of complaints and claims made by employees, and work to ensure efficient resolutions. 

Employment Law Services for Employees

For them, it may be business. For you, it’s your life. From bullying and harassment in the workplace to claims of wrongful dismissal, our team of experienced employment lawyers will help protect your rights as an employee in Alberta. 

Federal and provincial laws ensure that employees are protected in the workplace. When an employee is involved in a dangerous work environment, the situation may have far-reaching consequences on their lives. Your job is a big part of your life, and our employment lawyers can help make sure you understand all of your rights.

Employers may be responsible for hostile work environments or may fail to take action consistent with their responsibilities. Carbert Waite’s team of employment lawyers can explain and help you with sensible solutions to address your legal needs. Whether pursuing a wrongful dismissal claim or negotiating an acceptable solution to workplace grievances, our lawyers are here to advocate for Albertans in the workplace.

Temperature Screening at Work

For workplaces that remain open, or those considering how to resume operations, the possibility of screening employee temperature is being explored with greater frequency. With major corporations around the world announcing screening programs to both increase worker safety and consumer confidence, many others are asking if they should follow such a process.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator

The federal government recently launched a new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”) calculator on the Canada Revenue Agency website. This calculator is intended to help eligible employers estimate the amount of their subsidy claim in advance of applying for the CEWS.

COVID-19: My Temporary Layoff Period is Expiring – Now What?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant and harsh economic challenges to businesses in Alberta. In response to these challenges, many businesses have chosen to temporarily lay-off their employees under section 62 of the Employment Standards Code.

April 6 2020 Updates to the Employment Standards Code

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Alberta’s economy and working culture. In response to this pandemic, the Alberta Government on April 6, 2020 made many legislative changes to the Employment Standards Code. Key information about these changes is discussed here.

COVID-19 Termination: What Severance is Required?

Although the federal government is stepping in to provide employees much-needed income support through EI, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and other benefits, employees will still be entitled to receive notice or payment-in-lieu of notice upon the termination of their employment.

COVID-19: Navigating Working From Home for Employers and Employees

The COVID-19 outbreak is forcing organizations and employees to rely on remote work arrangements. While work from home arrangements have intrinsic challenges, the current COVID-19 social-isolation measures add further difficulty, as many employees are now balancing working from home with childcare obligations or home-schooling.

COVID-19: Tips For Employers – Maximizing Benefits to Your Employees Facing Layoffs

We have summarized a number of options available to employers to help maximize benefits to their employees facing temporary layoff or reduced income.

COVID-19: What Employees Need to Know

In response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, or novel coronavirus, both provincial and federal governments have amended workplace legislation with a goal of assisting businesses and Canadians vulnerable to layoffs and sickness. Here's what you need to know.

COVID-19 in the Workplace: Keep Calm and Carry On!

Alberta has confirmed seven cases of the COVID-19 virus, or novel coronavirus, as of the posting of this article. These cases, along with daily media reports from across the globe, seem to be prompting heightened fear of the virus. Alberta Health Services is posting up to date information and news releases here. Although there is no need for employers to panic, it is important for employers to be aware of their legal obligations to employees in relation to COVID-19.

Statutory Caps on Public Sector Employee Severance

It is well known that employers in Alberta, subject to certain exceptions, must give their employees a minimum amount of notice or pay in lieu of notice when terminating the employment relationship. For years Alberta employers have been required to comply with the termination provisions of the Employment Standards Code, which prescribe the minimum amount of termination notice (or pay) required, based on a given employee’s years of service. In many cases employees are entitled to greater notice of their employment termination under the common law.

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Updates – January 2020

The Supreme Court of Canada rules employers are not required to inspect locations where the employer does not control the work place. On December 20, 2019 the Supreme Court of Canada rendered their decision in Canada Post Corp. v. Canadian Union of Postal Workers, 2019 SCC 67. The appeal considered an Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal Canada order requiring an employer to inspect workplaces under section 125 of the Canada Labour Code.

Canada vs. US Employment Law

Employers coming to Canada from the US, or employers with operations in both jurisdictions, need to be aware of local employment laws. While there can be some exceptions, for the most part, where the work is being performed will determine the laws applicable to a worker. There is no end to the number of differences between each jurisdiction in Canada and the US, but here we summarize the biggest issues to be aware of.

When Do Incentive Payments Apply After Termination?

On October 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada heard an appeal in Matthews v. Ocean’s Nutrition that could have far-reaching implications for Canadian employers relating to long and short-term incentive plans, bonuses, and other forms of non-salary compensation.

Are you Ready for Your Holiday Party?

As we approach the holiday season, it is important that employers reflect on what can be done to ensure their holiday party is fun, safe, and enjoyable. Employers should be aware of all safety-related liabilities that can exist and host holiday events with the prioritization of employees’ safety in mind. These tips apply year-round, but with the increased number of events this time of the year, now is a great time for a refresher.

Review of Recent Changes to the Canada Labour Code

Many changes to the Canada Labour Code came into effect September 1, 2019 that will impact federally regulated employers.

Alberta’s 2019 Changes to Employment Legislation

Alberta introduced Bill 2 on May 27th, 2019, repealing much of the 2017 overhaul of the Employment Standards Code and Labour Relations Code. Changes amending the Employment Standards Code will come into force on September 1st, 2019. Changes amending the Employment Standards Regulation relating to “youth minimum wage” came into force June 26th, 2019.

#Metoo Has Come to my Workplace, Now What Do We Do?

Allegations of sexual harassment are serious and employers should investigate them promptly. Even when no specific complaint has been made, but there has been gossip or murmurings of inappropriate behaviour, employers should probe the issue and not wait for a formal complaint.

Limiting Language: Is Your Termination Clause Actually Effective?

When the difficult decision is made to terminate an employee, one of the first things employers often turn their mind to is how much notice or pay in lieu of notice they need to provide to the employee.

Employment Agreements for Start-ups

In the excitement of getting new business ventures off the ground, the formalities of employment relationships can be overlooked. Taking the time to implement employment contracts at the beginning can be very valuable and avoid big headaches down the road.

Medical Marijuana: No Duty to Accept Unacceptable Risk

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador recently upheld an arbitrator’s decision which found that the duty of an employer to accommodate an employee’s medical marijuana use does not require the employer to tolerate an unacceptable increased safety risk resulting from the possibility of impairment.

What to Do If You Receive an Employment Cease and Desist Letter

Shortly after hiring a new employee, your company might receive a Cease and Desist letter telling you that the employee you’ve hired is subject to a non-competition or non-solicitation agreement with their former employer. The letter might demand that you terminate the employee or take steps to ensure the employee does not breach their contractual obligations to the former employer.

Providing an Employment Reference: Can You Be Honest?

Employers regularly provide current and former employees an employment reference. In the case of an employee who was dismissed without cause, it’s usually in the employer’s best interest to provide a positive reference so that the departing employee can quickly find replacement employment and, as a consequence, reduce the employer’s damages.

Is there a Script for Terminating Employees?

Ending someone’s employment is a serious moment in their life, and should be addressed thoughtfully and with sensitivity. Most people assign a large amount of their identity to their job.

What to Do If You Are Being Investigated at Work

Becoming the subject of a workplace investigation is extremely stressful, so it is important to take the time to respond to and participate in an investigation carefully and calmly.

Employees Behaving Badly: Just Cause Termination for Conduct Outside the Workplace

Dismissing an employee with cause (where no notice or pay in lieu of notice is given) is rarely justified at law, particularly for conduct outside of work. However, there are circumstances where off-work behaviour can lead to a dismissal with just cause.

How the #MeToo Movement Will Challenge Employers’ Responses to Sexual Harassment Allegations

We have all watched the growing sexual harassment scandal roiling the American entertainment industry and causing the downfall of American political figures (with notable exceptions). Corporations and organizations across North America in numerous industries are dealing with an onslaught of credible allegations, some involving high profile employees and senior executives.

The Enforceability of Non-Disclosure Clauses in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

There has been considerable public attention recently on a variety of forms of agreements which limit an individual’s right to bring claims or to disclose sexual harassment.

Limits of Accommodating Marijuana Use in the Workplace

In February 2018, Canadian Family Physician, a peer-reviewed medical journal and the official publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) issued new simplified guidelines for when primary care physicians should grant a licence for medical marijuana.

Changes to Employment Law Summary Judgment in Alberta

On November 2, 2018 the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta issued a decision that may impact how many employment disputes are heard by the Court.

Terminating Part-time, Casual, or Irregular Hour Employees

We are frequently asked by employers how to end the employment of employees who are part time or work irregular schedules. Most Canadian employers understand the need to provide notice of termination of employment, as set out in the employee’s contract or under the common law.

Social Hosting: Tips for Your Company Party (Now With Cannabis!)

It’s that time again: time to look at what you can do to make sure your company’s holiday party is both fun and safe. These tips apply year-round, but with the increased number of social events at the end of the year, now is a good time for a refresher.

When Are Employees Fit to Work?

Assessing fitness to work is important in all workplaces, not just safety sensitive workplaces. Assessing fitness for work is also about more than testing employees for intoxication.

Employers’ Duty of Good Faith and the Enforceability of Deemed Resignations

In Jonasson v. Nexen, 2018 ABQB 598, a major energy company was judged to have acted in bad faith by seeking to rely upon a deemed resignation clause in its leave of absence agreement (“LOA Agreement”). The employee was deemed to have been dismissed without cause. Wrongful dismissal and punitive damages were awarded.

Explanation of Formal Offers

In most civil cases, the outcome is not entirely predictable. Generally speaking, there are three narratives to every case: (1) the plaintiff’s narrative; (2) the defendant’s narrative; and most importantly (3) the trial judge’s narrative, formed on review of all the admitted evidence.

You Were Just Laid Off – Now What?

You were just laid off. You are shocked and overwhelmed. You know you have rights and you are unsure if you were treated fairly by your former employer but you do not know what to do next. A helpful first step is to schedule an appointment with an employment lawyer who can explain your rights and advise if you have been treated fairly.

Testamentary Gifts and Inter Vivos Gifts, A Distinction: Seguin v Pearson

In its recent decision in Seguin v Pearson, 2018 ONCA 355 [Seguin], the Ontario Court of Appeal has clarified the distinction between the tests for challenging testamentary gifts versus inter vivos gifts (those made while a person is still living) on the basis of undue influence.

Testing the Limit: Suncor v Unifor

Alberta employers considering random drug and alcohol testing in unionized and safety sensitive environments have been waiting for the Alberta Court of Appeal’s (“ABCA”) decision in Suncor Energy Inc. v Unifor Local 707A (“Suncor”).

Alberta’s New Workplace Laws

On January 1, 2018, major changes to Alberta’s Employment Standards Code will come into force. Employers should be aware of the changes and examine policies and payroll practices to determine what updates are required.

The 2017 Federal Budget’s Impact on Workers

On March 22, 2017, the federal government released its 2017 budget. The new budget includes proposed changes to the Canada Labour Code, the Employment Insurance Act, and other legislation that will affect Canadian workers and employers.

Should I Accept This Severance Package?

When your employment is terminated, and you are considering whether or not to accept a payment being offered in lieu of notice, there are some key elements you should think about.

Federally Regulated Employers Be Cautious

In Wilson v. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.[1] the Supreme Court of Canada provided a critical clarification to the “unjust dismissal” provisions in the Canada Labour Code (the “Code”).[2] The Court ruled that the Code prohibits federally regulated businesses and organizations from dismissing most non-unionized employees without cause subject to certain exceptions.

The Pendulum Swings Toward Employees Regarding Bonus Entitlements

Bonuses are typically used by businesses to incentivize employees to perform better. However, when bonuses are paid year after year, they become reasonably expected components of annual compensation. Complications arise when employers seek to exclude such bonuses from pay in lieu of notice.

Changing (or Litigating) Workplace Policy: The Requirement of Consideration

Workplaces are dynamic and workplace policies must evolve. However, effectively amending a workplace policy so that it is enforceable in court is not as straightforward as one might think. Changes to company policies can affect employee rights, benefits, or entitlements.

Unilateral Changes to Employment Contracts

Your employer has laid off many of your colleagues; but not you. Instead, your employer informs you that it is cutting your pay, increasing your hours, or changing your job duties. What options do you have?

Navigating the Complexities of an Employment Termination

In the past few months, we have heard many stories of both large and small companies located in Alberta laying off substantial numbers of employees. In this uncertain environment, it is essential that both employees and employers alike understand the legal principles surrounding employment terminations. Failing to do so may mean that as an employer, you risk significant liability in the event any of your employees file a wrongful dismissal lawsuit.

Mental Illness in the Workplace: Legal Issues, Pre-emptive Solutions

here are various forms of mental health concerns ranging from mild depression and anxiety to severe depression and anxiety, bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia. Why is mental health in the workplace an issue?

Update on the Law of Constructive Dismissal

On March 6, 2015 the Supreme Court of Canada released its reasons for judgment in Potter v. New Brunswick (Legal Aid Services Commission), 2015 SCC 10. In it, the Court clarified the law on constructive dismissal for the first time since Farber v. Royal Trust Co., [1997] 1 S.C.R. 846.

Managing Disabled Employees

Common law rights of employers are restricted by human rights legislation. The Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits certain discriminatory employment practices that are otherwise permitted under the general laws of contract. Because disabled persons are a protected class, businesses cannot utilize employment practices that discriminate against them.

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