Labour and employment in Canada
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP is recognized as a leader in Canada's labour and employment legal market, boasting an extensive national presence with strong bases in its Montréal and Toronto offices. Headed by André Royer in Montréal, the national practice group has expertise in health and safety, compensation and pay equity, human rights issues and employments standards, among other matters. In particular, the team stands out for its counsel on labour-management relations in unionized workplaces; Robert Bonhomme in Montréal is a name to note in this space, as is Danny Kaufer, who has a strong reputation in arbitration. The practice group also has extensive experience in sensitive litigation; Matthew Certosimo in Toronto represents employers in wrongful dismissal claims and labour arbitration. Occupational health and safety specialist Katherine Poirier is also recommended in the Montréal office. Daniel Michaluk joined from Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP in August 2020.
Other key lawyers:
McCann Worldgroup Canada
Schenker of Canada
- Represented Montreal Gateway Terminals in litigation concerning whether the terminals are entitled to require that truck drivers of Sikh faith wear hard hats over their turbans, despite their religious beliefs prohibiting them from doing so.
- Represented Air Canada before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in a matter raising, for the first time, the constitutionality of the Canadian Human Rights Benefits Regulations.
- Acted as counsel to Fluent Home Ltd. on all employment matters, including litigation, across Canada.
Fasken's thriving labour and employment practice is recommended for a full range of non-contentious strategic and transactional matters, as well as for complex and consequential disputes, an area where litigator Douglas Gilbert is a key name. In addition to acting for a litany of major domestic public- and private-sector employers, the practice group also stands out for its representation of US corporations operating in Canada; Gilbert and Karen Sargeant (both in Toronto) are members of the American Employment Law Council. Contacts in Vancouver include David Wong and counsel Brian Burkett, who focuses on labour-management relations. Stéphane Fillion is recommended in the Montréal office.
Canada Post Corporation
Labour Issues Coordinating Committee
Westcoast Energy Inc. (Spectra Energy Transmission)
Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP Rail)
IBM Canada Ltd.
Molson Coors Canada
- Represented WestJet Airlines and Westcoast Energy, in separate human rights complaint filed respectively, claiming discrimination in hiring practices, and discrimination in employment based on marital status and age.
- Represented Air Canada in strategic matters and ongoing collective agreement arbitrations, labour relations board proceedings and employment, human rights and health and safety claims.
- Acted as counsel for Canada Post in the legislatively-imposed binding arbitration process, which is one of the most significant and complex labour cases in Canada.
'As smart and capable as they come', Norton Rose Fulbright runs a truly national practice group, with offices in Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Quebec City and Vancouver. The team is routinely engaged by multinationals and major domestic employers to handle large-scale outsourcing matters, corporate transactions and reorganizations. It has a strong record in employment litigation. Richard Charney in Toronto heads up the global practice group. Contacts in Montréal include national practice coordinator Pierre Hebert; Michel Carle, who contributes to the team's strength in the manufacturing, food and retail industries; and Luc Beaulieu, who has expertise in labour law and human rights issues.
‘Excellent approach to problems, always with a practical approach. Solutions-based but equally comfortable taking an academic or aggressive approach to issues. True teamwork between client and lawyer when working on cases with this team.’
‘Excellent team that spends the time getting to know the business and providing practical, realistic solutions to labour and employment problems. As smart and capable as they come.’
Royal Bank of Canada
Candu Energy Inc.
Maritime Employers Association
Énergir (Gaz Métro)
Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO)
Prince Rupert Port Authority
ATI Telecom International
Brookfield Office Properties Inc.
Eddie Bauer Canada Corporation
- Represented Enercare Home and Commercial Services in a judicial review application brought by two groups of employers challenging an Ontario Labour Relations Board decision which declared Enercare and certain contractors to be “related” (and therefore unionized) for the purposes of the Labour Relations Act, 1995.
- Assisted with conciliation of a collective agreement by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services regarding the renewal of the white-collar collective agreement with PSAC covering administrative and professional employees of the Montréal-Trudeau and Mirabel airports.
- Acted for the Maritime Employers Association in an unusual dispute between an individual employer and an employer association relating to their dealings with the trade union in the Port of Hamilton.
Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP
Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP has core expertise in employment standards, human rights matters, grievance and interest arbitration, occupational health and safety and civil litigation. Roy Filion QC has represented employers before the courts and administrative tribunals. James Knight is recommended for advice on collective bargaining and response to union organizing campaigns. The firm has three Ontario offices in Toronto, London and Hamilton.
Other key lawyers:
Harris & Company
Vancouver-based employment specialist firm Harris & Company acts for public bodies and private sector companies, leveraging extensive experience in employment and contractor agreements, terminations and restrictive covenants matters. On the contentious front, the team has experience in wrongful dismissal claims and employment standards complaints, among other disputes. Firm co-founder Eric Harris QC is a contact.
Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP
Known for its extensive public sector client base, Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP has experience of labour relations and collective bargaining, employment standards and employee contracts, among other matters. Toronto-based practice head Stephen Shamie is a contact in the team; he has defended of employers in arbitration, human rights hearings and labour board proceedings.
Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP
Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark LLP is known for its expertise in labour relations, particularly in the field of construction. Other key areas of work include occupational health and safety, human rights, workplace investigations and pay equity. Contacts include Keith Murray in Vancouver and manging partner Keith Murray in Toronto.
McLennan Ross LLP
McLennan Ross LLP's management-side labour and employment practice has a strong presence in Alberta and Northern Canada, where it acts for a variety of clients including regional governments and municipal bodies, education institutions, and domestic and international corporates. In line with its regional strength, the team has a good deal of expertise acting for clients natural resources industries. Tim Mitchell in Calgary is noted for his work for federally- and provincially-regulated employers. Maurice Dransfeld, Tom Ross QC and Michelle Theriault lead teams in Edmonton, Calgary and Yellowknife, respectively.
Other key lawyers:
Government of Alberta
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
Bow Valley College
City of Calgary
Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
Lafarge Canada Inc.
City of Lethbridge
University of Calgary
PCL Construction Group
Roper Greyell LLP
Vancouver-based boutique Roper Greyell LLP is very well known in Western Canada. The firm has a full-service labour and employment practice covering workplace management, labour relations, human rights and health and safety issues, and workplace investigations and employment litigation. Contacts include founding partner Thomas Roper QC and Jennifer Devins, who has experience in cases involving harassment, human rights and school law.
Other key lawyers:
'Unfailingly responsive', Baker McKenzie is rated for providing 'helpful and practical advice' on contentious and non-contentious matters employment and compensation issues arising out of corporate transactions, labour relations and HR management. The team stands out in particular for its strength in employment disputes, with demonstrated expertise in discrimination claims, harassment and gender pay inequality. Practice head George Avraam in Toronto is recognized by clients as 'an impressive and unflappable negotiator and litigator'. Also recommended is associate Jennifer Bernardo, 'an exceptionally bright and focused young lawyer'.
Other key lawyers:
‘The employment team at Baker McKenzie are unfailingly responsive, give helpful and practical advice, have a great understanding of the post secondary education sector, and are always thoughtful in finding solutions and options. I cannot recommend them highly enough.’
‘George Avraam is highly experienced, practical, very no-nonsense approach, and gives great advice. George is also an impressive and unflappable negotiator and litigator.’
‘Jennifer Bernardo is an exceptionally bright and focused young lawyer, who always has an impressive grasp of the details of cases, gives thoughtful and practical advice and has very strong drafting skills.’
Adobe Canada Systems, Inc.
Aroma Espresso Bar
Barclays Capital Canada, Inc.
Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)
German Automotive Industry Network (GAIN)
KIK Corporation/USW Union
Olympus Canada, Inc.
Ontario Universities (McMaster University, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Queen’s University)
Primary Response, Inc.
Tech Mahindra Canada Limited (Tech M)
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services
- Defended Wrigley and its affiliates against a claim that it induced a former employee to relocate to Canada under false pretences and can be held liable because the former employee and her child failed to obtain permanent residence in Canada.
- Represented KIK in objecting to the Ontario Labour Relation Board’s long-standing “double envelope process” in a union certification vote.
Bennett Jones LLP
Bennett Jones LLP provides comprehensive labour and employment advice to a number of major Canadian employers, balancing strengths in transactional support, standalone advisory work and court litigation. Among the team's core specialisms are occupational health and safety risk and incident management, various HR matters and terminations, restructuring-related employment matters, and labour relations. Calgary-based John Gilmore jointly heads the practice with Carl Cunningham, who advises federally and provincially regulated employers, and pension and benefits expert Susan Seller, both of whom are in the firm's Toronto office.
ATCO Ltd/ Canadian Utilities Ltd. (and all subsidiaries)
Core-Mark International Inc.
Macquarie North America
McCain Foods Limited
NES Global Talent
Plains Midstream Canada ULC
Dentons' labour and employment group handles a broad range of contentious and non-contentious work, regularly advising on compliance, workplace investigations, health and safety and executive compensation, among other matters. Christian Létourneau in Montréal heads up the national practice and has niche expertise in psychological harassment cases. Andy Pushalik leads the Toronto group and is sought after for sensitive HR issues. Sector strengths include health services, manufacturing, professional services, transportation, and public sector.
‘Knowledgeable, proficient and professional.’
‘Andy Pushalik is a phenomenal advocate and advisor.’
Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association (ACSTA)
Mikisew Group of Companies
Aon Reed Stenhouse Inc.
Alamos Gold Inc.
Canadian Media Producers Association
Reliq Health Technologies Inc.
Ontario Power Generation Inc.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
Canadian National Railway Company (“CN”)
Commonwealth Plywood Ltée
- Advised a large Canadian retailer on a major restructuring involving the closure of multiple stores nationwide and affecting hundreds of employees.
- Advised Canadian National on various injunction applications to limit picketing activities across Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) in 2019.
- Advised Ontario Power Generation on the acquisition of a 50% interest in the 560MW combined-cycle natural gas-fired Brighton Beach Generating Station from affiliates of Canadian Utilities Limited.
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP
DLA Piper (Canada) LLP handles a wide variety of labour, employment, human rights and workplace privacy matters. Of late, it has been among the leading firms for labour and employment work relating to Alberta's oil-linked economic downturn. The practice also stands out for its experience advising employers on issues linked to Canada's burgeoning marijuana sector. Richard Nixon in Toronto jointly heads the team with Allen Soltan in Vancouver. Calgary-based Michael Ford QC is well-known for acting for employers in collective bargaining, arbitrations, strikes and contract administration matters.
Other key lawyers:
The University of Calgary
The Calgary Board of Education
Mount Royal University
FIRST Canada ULC
Alberta Health Services
Municipal Employees Benefits Association of Calgary
Canada Malting Corp.
Trane Canada ULC
Calgary Drop-In Centre
Canadian Media Producer’s Association
Greyhound Canada Transportation
Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors
Lawson Lundell LLP's labour, employment and human rights group is experienced in both provincial and federal workplace law, with key areas of work including labour relations, collective bargaining, occupational health and safety, wrongful dismissals and employment equity. Robert Sider is a contact in Vancouver.
Striking 'just the right balance between aggressive and practical', the labour and employment team at McCarthy Tétrault has expertise across a range of contentious and transactional matters. A standout partner in the team is Shana Wolch in Calgary, 'an exceptional legal professional', who is noted for her expertise in occupational health and safety, and alcohol and drugs policies with a focus on cannabis. André Baril in Montréal has an especially strong reputation as a litigator in this space. Contacts in Toronto include Trevor Lawson, who acts for employers in a variety of industry sectors including consumer goods, retail and hospitality; and national group lead Tim Lawson.
‘Very dynamic, client-oriented, open, amicable’
‘The McCarthy team strikes just the right balance between aggressive and practical problem solving.’
‘Responsive, practical, strategic and end result-focused, tailored to the specific needs and desires of the client.’
‘Shana Wolch is an exceptional lawyer and trusted advisor, and versatile in providing creative business solutions tailored to our company and always industry focused.’
‘The team were key partners to us in negotiating a complex, visible and sensitive set of collective agreements.’
‘The labour & employment team in McCarthy’s Calgary office, with leadership of Shana Wolch, is cutting edge. They provide proactive, solutions-oriented legal advice through their innate understanding of our business and practical approach. No firm in Calgary compares to McCarthys in this regard.’
‘Shana Wolch who is extraordinary lawyer in the L&E space. She gets the issues, cuts to the chase and helps us figure out on-the-spot solutions in many cases.’
‘Shana Wolch is an exceptional legal professional. Her depth and breath of knowledge and experience is impressive, and her empathetic approach is outstanding.’
‘McCarthy Tetrault is an incredibly diverse firm with expertise across all areas of our legal needs. This ‘deep bench’ allows for easy and effective communication which allows my company to remain confident in the actions it takes and the decisions that are made. McCarthy Tetrault works hard to engage the team for any given job and, as result, leaves our team in a strong and progressive market position.’
Government of Ontario Department of Education
Hudson’s Bay Company
Fedex Freight Canada
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Hertz Canada Limited
VIA Rail Canada Inc.
- Leading negotiations on behalf of the Government of Ontario, in high-profile bargaining matter worth more than $26bn, involving numerous unions representing all teachers and staff members in the province.
- Represented the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers in its intervention at the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Matthews v. Ocean Nutrition.
- Acted for HBC in the reorganization and closure of home outfitters stores across Canada.
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP's employment and labour team has expertise in transactional matters and employment litigation. Other key areas of work include collective agreement administration, human rights and HR issues. Toronto-based practice chair Jason Hanson has extensive experience representing employers, conducting investigations, and Sven Poysa, who splits his time between Toronto and Montréal, is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Led by Lisa Talbot, the employment team at Torys represents well-known domestic and multinational corporate clients in employment disputes and class actions across the country. In addition to its litigation and internal investigations work, the team also advises on the hiring and firing of executives, executive compensation matters and human rights issues. It also supports the firm's corporate transactional work. The wider pensions and employment practice is chaired by Mitch Frazer.
Other key lawyers:
Uber Technologies Inc., Uber Canada Inc., Uber B.V.
Loblaw Companies Limited/George Westin/Choice Properties
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Four Seasons Hotels Limited
Alamos Gold Inc.
Rogers Communications Inc.
Deloitte & Touche LLP
- Represented Uber in a proposed class action in Ontario concerning the employment status of Uber drivers.
- Advised Microchip Technology Canada Inc. on all Canadian employment matters arising from and following its acquisition of Microsemi.
- Defended BlackBerry in a class action commenced on behalf of all Canadian employees who were offered and accepted employment with Ford Motor Company of Canada (about 300 employees). This action alleges wrongful dismissal on behalf of all affected employees
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP's employment team is most active in support of its busy corporate practice, though the team also advises on executive arrangements, accommodation requests, and discrimination and harassment complaints. Practice head Andrea York in Toronto acts for domestic and multi-national employers in a variety of sectors and has recently been busy assisting clients with managing return to work and other workplace issues arising as a result of the pandemic.
Havas Canada Holdings Inc.
John Deere Canada ULC
Just Eat plc.
Kinder Morgan Canada Limited
Mercedes-Benz West Island
Nestlé Canada Inc.
Omnicom Canada Corp.
The Bank of Nova Scotia
The Toronto-Dominion Bank
- Advised Deere & Company on the transfer or dismissal of approximately 1,000 employees in Ontario, Quebéc, and Newfoundland & Labrador during the course of its sale of the assets of Nortrax Canada Inc. and Nortrax Quebéc Inc.
- Advised Sappi Canada Enterprises Inc. on the employment and labour aspects of its acquisition of Rayonier A.M. Canada Enterprises Inc.’s pulp mill and related assets in Matane, Quebéc.
- Advised Impark on a legal claim against a former senior executive regarding his taking a corporate opportunity for personal gain and conflict of interest.
The labour and employment practice at Gowling WLG provides 'practical, business-first advice' to international companies seeking to establish a presence in Canada. The firm draws its clients from a wide range of industry sectors, including financial services, manufacturing, technology and life sciences. Bettina Burgess heads the national practice group, with regional groups led by Andrew Bratt in Toronto, Maxwell Brunette in Calgary and Vancouver, Josée Gervais in Montréal and Mark Josselyn in Ottawa.
‘Max Brunnette does a great job at providing practical, experienced-based advice.’
‘Practical, business-first, advice. Gowling’s lawyers understand how legal tasks fit into our larger business strategy.’
Crawford & Company (Canada) Inc.
CPC Logistics Canada Ltd.
Länk Football Group Inc.
Party City Holdco Inc.
- Handled all Canadian employment-related matters for Starbucks.
- Acted as employment law counsel to Crawford for all employment-related matters across Canada.
- Counsel to Party City in the sale and agreement of its Canadian retail business to Canadian Tire Corporation.
Miller Thomson has advised on a range of labour and employment matters, including labour relations and collective bargaining, non-union and executive employment, and attendance and disability management. The team also provides support on corporate restructuring, outsourcing and M&A. Hugh Dyer in Toronto is a contact for health and safety and human rights issues.
Aird & Berlis LLP's labour and employment practice supports corporate transactions, and also provides standalone advice on compensation and pay equity, employment standards, workplace conflicts and wrongful dismissals. The team is also experienced in assisting employers with strikes and lockouts. Practice head Lorenzo Lisi is experienced with grievance and labour board litigation.
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP has advised employers on labour and union relations, workplace investigations, executive terminations, independent contractor agreements and wrongful dismissal claims. Kristin Taylor is the name to note in the practice group.
Other key lawyers:
Toronto-based litigation boutique Lenczner Slaght handles a broad range of contentious employment matters, including cases arising from wrongful dismissal, the enforcement of restrictive covenants, unfair competition, and the misappropriation of trade secrets. Matthew Sammon heads the practice and has a strong reputation for handling employment disputes.
Mackie Research Capital Corporation and Mackie Research Financial Corporation
Ernst & Young
BMO Nesbitt Burns / Bank of Montreal
Xerox Canada Limited
- Acted for Ernst & Young in an action against two individuals and another accounting firm for alleged breaches of restrictive covenants, fiduciary duties, and duties of confidentiality.
- Acted as counsel to Cineflix, a global media production company, and its various affiliates in a proposed Ontario class action alleging that Cineflix misclassified a range of employees as independent contractors in order to deprive them of various compensation owing under the Employment Standards Act. The class action also alleges systemic breach of contract and breach of duty of good faith.
- Acted for the Bank of Montreal in an action commenced by departing vice president and investment advisor for alleged breach of contract, bad faith, and intentional interference with economic relations.
Sherrard Kuzz LLP
Labour and employment boutique Sherrard Kuzz LLP has a track record of advising on labour relations, strike and lockdown preparation, and workplace audits, among other matters. Toronto-based Erin Kuzz and Michael Sherrard are key contacts.