Civil Litigation in General
Civil litigation deals with the procedural rights and obligations of individuals who are involved in private disputes. Typical categories of dispute in the civil litigation context include wrongful dismissal, personal injury, contract breach, defamation, negligence, business disputes, confidentiality issues, violations of fiduciary duty and professional malpractice.
In Ontario, civil litigation is governed by a set of rules called the Rules of Civil Procedure (the “Rules”). These Rules provide the framework for the resolution or disposition of civil conflicts. A party that commences a claim, (or “sues” someone), is known as the “plaintiff.” The party defending the allegations of the plaintiff is called the “defendant.”
A civil dispute usually ends by way of a settlement, judgment, or an order. It may also be dismissed due to various procedural considerations.
Labour and Employment Law
People often use the words “labour” and “employment” law interchangeably. However, while both concepts deal with rules that govern work relations, the former area of practice generally deals with unionized employees and the collective bargaining regime while the latter does not.
At common law the employment relationship between the employer and employee is governed by the “employment contract.” The employment contract is a special kind of contract. This is because unlike a “typical” commercial contract – one involving a written agreement with defined terms – an employment contract might change over the course of the employment relationship. However, as with any contract, the parties have to decide on the essential terms of the agreement and something of value has to be exchanged for the employment contract to be formed. An employment contract may be entered into verbally or in writing.
When it comes to “labour law,” once a workplace is guaranteed the protection of a union, employees become subject to the “collective bargaining” regime with the employer. This means that the union serves as an advocate for those employees falling within the bargaining unit. One can say that while most litigation relating to dismissed employees deals with the breakdown in the employment relationship, a collective agreement serves to preserve such a relationship and address disputes while trying to keep the employment relationship alive.
Although unionized employees are oftentimes more protected than their non-unionized counterparts, the vast majority of employees in Canada are not unionized.
Zeilikman Law routinely represents both employers and employees and strongly advises the reader to seek the help of a licensed Ontario lawyer in the event of a labour or employment dispute. We would be happy to provide you with a consultation.