Labour & Employment Law Blog

Constructive Dismissal: Potter v. New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

The Supreme Court of Canada released a decision which addressed when suspending an employee may be considered constructive dismissal.

Mr. Potter was a lawyer who was appointed as an Executive Director of the New Brunswick Legal Aid Services Commission (“Commission”) for a seven-year term. During his term the Commission decided to suspend Mr. Potter with pay and advised him not to return to work until further notice.

The Supreme Court decided that Mr. Potter was in fact constructively dismissed. The court held that (1) the court must recognize an express or implied contract term that has been breached and determine whether the breach was serious enough to constitute a repudiation of the employment contract; and (2) then the court will determine whether an employer’s conduct alternatively demonstrates an intention not to be bound by the contract. The Court found in Mr. Potter’s case that the Commission did not have an express or implied right under the contract to indefinitely suspend Mr. Potter and that this breach was serious enough to constitute a repudiation of the contract.

What can we take away from the above? The court will look at the specific facts that took place in any given scenario. They will look to seek if there was an express or implied authority to suspend an employee in accordance with the terms of the contract, whether or not the suspension was justified and the length of the suspension. Employers must give an employee a justifiable reason for the suspension and the length of suspension must also be reasonable or risk being sued for constructive dismissal. Employers who may seek to suspend employees in the future would be wise to have the employee agree to it in writing at the commencement of the employment relationship.

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.