Labour & Employment Law Blog

Sometimes Less is More

Zeilikman Law

Zeilikman Law

Case Summary

In a fairly recent decision, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found in favour of the defendants on summary judgement, dismissing an action by the plaintiff-employer for alleged breach of a non-competition clause.


This case involved a travel agent, Ms. Mary Murphy, who resigned from her employment with Donaldson Travel and Uniglobe Donaldson Travel (hereinafter the “plaintiffs”), and subsequently secured employment with Goligor’s TravelPlus (“Goligor’s”). After Ms. Murphy began working at Goligor’s, the plaintiffs lost four clients to Goligor’s. As a result, the plaintiffs alleged that Ms. Murphy poached these clients in violation of a non-competition clause contained in her employment agreement with the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs sued both Ms. Murphy and Goligor’s for breach of the employment agreement, misappropriation of confidential information and intentional interference with contractual relations. Both Ms. Murphy and Goligor’s brought a motion for summary judgment dismissing the actions as against them, respectively.

The Court found the non-competition clause to be unenforceable because it was unreasonable in the circumstances. The clause at issue read:

“Mary agrees that in the event of termination or resignation that she will not solicit or accept business from any corporate accounts or customers that are serviced by Uniglobe Donaldson Travel, directly or indirectly.”

When determining whether or not a restrictive covenant is reasonable, courts must consider the following factors:

  1. did the employer have a proprietary interest entitled to protection?
  2. are the temporal or spatial features of the covenant too broad?
  3. is the covenant unenforceable as being against competition generally, and not limited to proscribing solicitation of clients of the former employer?

The Court reasoned that the wording of the restrictive covenant suggested that it was more akin to a non-competition clause rather than a non-solicitation clause. Generally, non-compete clauses attract a higher level of scrutiny by courts because they place a greater restraint on trade and interfere with free and open market competition. The Court found that in this case, the plaintiff could have sufficiently protected their business interests with a non-solicitation clause. Further, the clause as it stood provided for no temporal or spatial limits on Ms. Murphy’s restraint on trade. As such, the Court found the clause to be overly broad and therefore unenforceable.


Sometimes, less is more. This rings particularly true when drafting restrictive covenants in the employment context. It’s important to remember that when a restrictive covenant is overly broad, it will be struck down by the court in its entirety, rather than “read-down” to make it enforceable. As a result, if you have the option, it’s usually better to err on the side of caution and draft restrictive covenants that may be slightly less restrictive than an employer may want, so as to decrease the likelihood that it may be struck down.

Donaldson Travel Inc. v Murphy et al, 2016 ONSC

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.