Labour & Employment Law Blog

Changes at the workplace and grappling with COVID-19 workplace anxieties

As employment lawyers, we hear a variation on the following theme all the time: “my work environment is unbearable but they are waiting for me to quit,” or “I’m experiencing a significant change in my role and duties, but they wouldn’t terminate me from my job because they don’t want to give me a severance package.” Then the dilemma kicks in: “but I don’t want to leave without some sort of compensation.”

The above reality is not unique to recent events but it has definitely been exacerbated during recent weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Businesses are undergoing significant financial stresses and, in the current state of affairs, many employers’ decision making is anxiety driven. However, the law continues to apply and, absent radical government intervention, will not excuse conduct that would normally amount to a breach of the employee’s rights. That is why many of those who seek our advice are surprised to find out that employees who find themselves in such a predicament are not without legal recourse or remedy.

In fact, many of our clients realize that an employer who tries to “squeeze out” an employee short of actually terminating them is looking at substantial liability down the road. Employers who seek to unilaterally impose materially different terms of employment or facilitate or condone a toxic work environment may be sued for what’s called “constructive dismissal.” In plain English, constructive dismissal means that the law deems the employer to have terminated the employee’s employment relationship thereby entitling the employee to compensation. What compensation would those be? The very same compensation the employee would have been eligible to receive had he or she actually been dismissed by the employer through a formal termination letter.

Furthermore, if there is malice, bad faith or some form of untoward conduct involved, the employer may also be looking at further damages down the road.

In consequence, if you find yourself in a situation where the work environment is becoming unbearable and you’re on the verge of quitting or resigning your job, seek legal advice first. It is possible that what is happening to you amounts to an actionable wrong entitling you to various legal remedies.

Alternatively, if you’re an employer and you are simply not getting along with a particular employee do not make things worse. Be rational and do not act on impulse. Obtain legal advice to assure a lawful and orderly resolution of your workplace conflict.

The above article is for general information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice or create a solicitor-client relationship. Because each case is unique and factually driven, if you have concerns with regard to the foregoing issues, please make an appointment with one of our lawyers or a qualified legal practitioner elsewhere. We represent clients in the Greater Toronto Area including Toronto, North York, Markham, Vaughan, Thornhill, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Barrie, Ajax, Whitby, Pickering and Oshawa.

Legal Receptionist

Zeilikman Law is an employment law firm located in Vaughan, Ontario. We are looking to hire a legal receptionist to join our firm. Preference will be given to candidates who have experience working as a receptionist at another law firm.

Location: Vaughan, Ontario.

Start Date: Immediately.

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Full time. In-person only. This is not a remote work position.

Wages: 35,000 to 40,000 per year.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Manage our firm’s multi-line telephone system to receive incoming calls.  Screen incoming telephone call inquiries to determine the nature of the telephone call and provide standard information related to our legal services.  Take and deliver messages and route incoming telephone calls to the appropriate staff person.
  • Answer general inquiries coming from the firm’s social media and website email.
  • Welcome in-person visitors upon arrival.  Direct visitors to the appropriate staff person and / or office or boardroom.
  • Organize in-person visitor schedule to prevent overlap and multiple bookings.
  • Receive, sort, and distribute daily mail and deliveries.
  • Arrange for couriers.
  • Keep front reception, kitchenette area and boardroom tidy.
  • Perform various clerical duties such as filing, photocopying, and faxing on an as-needed basis.
  • Process client or other payments.
  • May be asked to run minor errands outside of office such as attending post office to arrange a courier or pick up mail.
  • May be asked to assist other law clerks or lawyers of the firm as required and as appropriate.
  • Any other basic administrative duties or tasks as deemed appropriate.

Required Skills:

  • Basic knowledge of general office procedures including filing, faxing, and printing and copying.
  • Basic word processing computer skills.
  • Proficient in receptionist and telephone practices, etiquette, and decorum.
  • Professional attitude and appearance.
  • Excellent organizational skills.
  • Positive customer service attitude is a must.
  • Must be able to maintain confidential and sensitive information.

Education and Experience:

  • Highschool diploma or equivalent.
  • 1 – 2 years’ experience in an office setting with an emphasis in accounting, reception or clerical work is required.   We would prefer experience in a law firm environment.

Applications for this position should be sent via email to jennifer@zeilikmanlaw.com. All applications should include a cover letter, resume and at least two references. Only successful candidates will be contacted.