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Employment & Labour Law

Canada Employment & Labour Law Federal Court of Canada Rulings Weekend reads

Montreal tax lawyer fights federal whistleblower watchdog

Yacine Agnaou is one of a handful of Canadian lawyers who took on Quebec tax authorities and plead a case so successfully that now others are trying to follow suit. Last year Agnaou won a precedent-setting ruling that condemned Revenue Quebec to pay nearly $4 million, including a staggering $2 million in punitive damages, to a businessman who was forced to shut down his business after it mishandled his case. Lawyers from different firms, evidently emboldened, are now working together to plead a case before the Quebec Court of Appeal to stop Revenue Quebec’s controversial policy of holding companies liable for the tax delinquencies of its suppliers.

Now Agnaou is immersed in another legal battle against another government department, and once again the odds of winning are stacked against him. Agnaou, a former Crown prosecutor, has filed a motion for leave to appeal before the Federal Court of Appeal in a bid to force the federal whistleblower watchdog to investigate his allegations of wrongdoing against the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.…

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Business Employment & Labour Law Weekend reads

Pension battle brewing

Chances are the pension battle is going to get ugly.

A combination of longer life expectancy, investment volatility and threadbare interest rates, and lax pension management has left many municipalities who operate their own pension plans with gaping deficits. The same holds true in some provinces that have created a single, province-wide pension plan for municipal workers.

Municipalities faced with soaring pension deficits consider sharing the risk, and reneging on promises to employees. …

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Charter of Rights and Freedoms Employment & Labour Law Federal Court of Canada Supreme Court of Canada Weekend reads

Truth & Consequences

Edgar Schmidt, a soft-spoken lawyer, joins a growing list of Canadian whistleblowers who quickly discover that disclosing potential wrongdoing in the workplace almost always leaves them vulnerable.

Schmidt’s court case raises thorny issues over the nature of the professional responsibilities and ethical obligations of government lawyers.

But it also underscores the tension that exists between the duty of loyalty an employee owes to his employer, freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and federal and provincial whistleblowing legislation that aims to protect whistleblowers from retribution by their employers. …

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Business Canada Employment & Labour Law Weekend reads

Tug of war – Canadian labour under seige

Is organized labour coming under attack in Canada?

Members of the labour movement, reeling from a shifting economy and dwindling membership in the private sector, seem to think so.

They decry Ottawa and the provinces’ willingness in recent years to vote back–to-work legislation to put an end to bargaining disputes. They denounce a controversial private member's bill that will place onerous financial disclosure requirements on unions that passed third reading in the House of Commons and, as of this writing, is before the Senate. And now they dread the possibility that the Rand Formula, which for more than a half century has required employees represented by unions to pay dues, will come under increasing scrutiny.

“Clearly, it’s all part of a movement from traditional elements of the Conservative government, who borrowed from the U.S. Republican Party, to attack trade unions on all fronts,” remarks Stéphane Lacoste, general counsel of Teamsters Canada.…

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Barreau du Quebec Employment & Labour Law Quebec

Another labour dispute strikes Quebec’s justice system

The list of actors in the Quebec justice system who have grievances against the Quebec government continues to flourish.

Judges sitting on the (TAQ), a specialized court that deals with administrative decisions, recently walked out for a few hours after labour negotiations with the government reached an impasse. In early May, nine of ten coordinating judges, responsible for ensuring rapid and efficient processing of the proceedings, resigned from their administrative duties.

Judges sitting on the Tribunal Administratif du Quebec (TAQ), a specialized court that deals with administrative decisions, recently walked out for a few hours after labour negotiations with the government reached an impasse. …

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Employment & Labour Law Legal business Quebec

Quebec’s justice system paralyzed

Exasperated that labour negotiations with the Quebec government are at a standstill, provincial crown prosecutors and government lawyers have joined forces to launch a general strike that will likely cripple the province’s justice system -- unless there is a striking turnabout in the government’s seemingly unyielding stance.

Asserting that they are the worst-paid in the country and woefully understaffed, making it all but impossible to recruit new staff and adhere to their code of professional conduct, members of the Quebec crown counsel association (APCPPQ) and the Association des juristes de l'État (AJE) recently voted overwhelmingly – a 90 per cent landslide -- in favor of a general strike.

“We don’t want to strike,” said Marc Lajoie, president of the AJE, a union representing nearly 1,000 lawyers, notaries, and other legal professionals. “We want to be able to resolve our problems but there has been no progress so we are going to use the ultimate recourse we have to be able to make things advance.”…

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Employment & Labour Law Legal Practice Management Weekend reads

Law firms coming to grips with retirement issues

The figures are stark.

It is estimated that nearly 70 per cent of law firm partners are “baby boomers,” according to Hildebrandt International, an international legal consulting firm. In the United States, the latest figures reveal that approximately 400,000 lawyers will reach retirement age at some point within the next decade. Nearly a third of California’s 170,000 active attorneys are older than 55, and 21 per cent older than 60. Closer to home, 8,284 of its 22,500 members are over the age of 50, according to the latest figures from the Barreau du Québec. In Ontario, a startling 42 per cent of lawyer licensees, for a total of 17,850, are over the age of 50, reveals a demographic breakdown from the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Yet though the median age in the profession has increased, with the youngest baby boomers expecting to reach the mid-50s and the oldest the early 70s by the year 2018, Canadian law firms are seemingly struggling to come to grips with the changing demographics and are slow, if not reluctant, to deal with retirement as a major firm issue, assert legal industry observers.

“It’s a sensitive issue,” remarked Jordan Furlong, a consultant with leading consultancy firm…

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