Video Interview: Discussing the Dos and Don'ts of Firing Someone on LXBN TV

Following up on my recent post on firings, I had the opportunity to discuss the subject with Colin O'Keefe of LXBN. In the video interview, I share what employers should and shouldn't do in letting an employee go. 

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Cyberloafing, Time Theft or Productive Multi-Tasking?


Can an employer monitor (i.e. spy on) their employees’ online productivity (i.e. slacker, time-wasting cyberloafing)?  Today I participated in a Lancaster House session on “Cyberloafing, Cyberspying” – two sides of the same labour relations coin, but full of divergent expectations and perspectives.  I learned a ton from my fellow panelists, Dan Scott and Susan Munn, who represent unions and the government respectively, as well as the moderators, Shana French and Anne Gregory. 

The common thread throughout the program was how to work through divergent expectations of privacy in the workplace. 

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US versus Canadian Workplaces

Unlike many other areas of the law, employment and human rights law lets me dig into cultural differences, individual perceptions of reality, and some of the universal truths that unite us all.  I love that just a couple of kilometres/miles south of Toronto, and in fact, just across Lake Ontario, there are often such different expectations in the workplace. 

In the Canadian employment law bootcamps I’ve done for US employers, it is perhaps the assumption that Canadians and Americans share a relatively common culture that gives rise to the interesting reactions when differences do arise.  I’ve blogged about this before (see my FAQs for US Employers in 2011), but want to share some of my more recent observations. 

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How to Fire an Employee

Yes, this is a crummy subject, for both sides of the issue.  I have yet to meet an employer or HR person who looks forward to that awkward meeting, where they need to pull the plug.  Even amicable separations are full of potential anxiety about how to treat each other fairly, while advocating for oneself.

Here are my top 5 tips for employers who have to do the difficult deed:

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Employment Contracts (whether you like them or not)

At the end of August, our new law firm will be half a year old.  After a decade of practicing law in other peoples’ firms, I have to say, being the owner of the business is even better than I had expected.  It’s not fewer hours, has just as many (but different) headaches, and the day to day law is no less challenging than being at a big global law firm.

But the difference is, the hours, headaches and challenges are mine to own, and mine to prioritize according to client needs rather than according to big infrastructure timelines and priorities. 

But then there’s all the administrative work.

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Human Rights During the Job Interview

Most companies know which are some of the obviously dangerous questions to ask during a job interview.  Are you planning to have children (i.e. many expensive parental leaves)?  Do you have a happy (i.e. stable) marriage? Are you religious (i.e. a different religion than me)?

What about the less obvious questions?  Focusing on any characteristic protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”) is inviting trouble.  If a job candidate can then establish that they did not get a job even in part because of discrimination, the employer may be facing a claim.  The Code is crystal clear that the human rights regime applies throughout the entire employment relationship, from the interview and pre-employment stage, right through to termination.

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Coworking Part 4: Managing Employees

In my recent blog posts, I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce and some of the risks around data security and privacy, as well as interpersonal employment law risks.  In this next part of the series, I set out strategies to consider when managing employees in the coworking space.

Nobody likes to be a joy-killer with draconian policies and 20 page employment contracts.  But having nothing in place is asking for unnecessary headaches.  Here are a few lean strategies that you can consider, and to ramp up and expand as you grow:

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Legal Services in the Modern Workplace

March 2014 was one heck of a month for me.  On March 1, my friend and colleague, Inna Koldorf, and I launched our new law firm, Koldorf Stam LLP. 

After 10 years of practice, nearly 7 years at Baker & McKenzie, one of the planet’s largest law firms, I knew I needed to jump in to the new way of practicing law.  We really are at a cross-road in how we deliver legal services – but more importantly, how we consume legal services.  The internet has changed everything.  You can look up statutes on CanLii, note up cases online, read blog posts full of legal ‘information’, or go to the Ministry of Labour website for labour standards – all for free.  So where do lawyers fit in with all of this?

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Coworking Part 3: Interpersonal Employment Law Risks

In my last blog posts (here and here), I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce and some of the risks around data security and privacy.  In this part three of the series, I set out some of the employment law issues related to human interactions in coworking spaces:  booze, sexual harassment and discrimination.

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Coworking Part 2: Data & Privacy Risks

In my last blog post, I discussed the emerging importance of coworking spaces in the post-industrial workforce.  In this part two of the series, at the risk of bursting this utopian post-industrial bubble, I set out some of the more pressing employment law issues with coworking spaces:  confidential information, data security, privacy and ownership of content.

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