WHAT WE DO...

 

We represent both employers and employees.

 

At Inspire Law, we can assist you with a variety of legal issues, including Employment Law, and workplace related matters, such as: Human Rights, Drugs and Alcohol issues, Privacy Rights and Occupational Health & Safety.

We understand that whether you are an employer or an employee, issues involving legal rights in the workplace can be among the most stressful issues that you can face in life. For both employers and employees, changes or potential changes at work can prompt many questions and emotions. It can be challenging to try to navigate legal rights all by yourself, which is why it makes sense to obtain legal advice from a lawyer with experience in these areas.

We can assist employers with:

  • Drafting employment policies and introducing them into the workplace.
  • Drafting and advising on individual employment contracts.
  • Providing advice and legal representation on cases involving employee use of drugs and alcohol.

EMPLOYMENT LAW

We can assist you with a variety of legal issues, including the legal ramifications of the employer-employee relationship. You will be treated with respect, spoken to in plain English, and can rest assured that your legal matter is in the right hands.

Employment law is the law as it applies to work and the workplace, including, among others:

  • Employment Standards (which regulates matters such as minimum wages, hours of work,
    overtime, maternity leaves and other leaves, minimum amounts to be paid upon dismissal
    without cause) discrimination/ human rights issues
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Drug and alcohol testing in conjunction with work
  • Disability; health or lifestyle related absences from work
  • Privacy as it relates to the workplace
  • Termination of Employment and Wrongful Dismissal
  • Severance packages and so much more...

DRUGS, ALCOHOL, & WORK

Legalization of Marijuana

With the legalization of marijuana, this is a rapidly expanding area of law. Cannabis legalization involves many issues including, but not limited to: human rights, privacy, and an employer's ability to manage its work force.

If the experience in other jurisdictions is any indication, legalization of cannabis is likely to result in increased use among Canadians. Cannabis use among British Columbians has already been reported to be the highest in Canada.  Increased social acceptability of using ‘pot’ suggests that legalization of cannabis may result in an increased risk of employees appearing at work after having consumed cannabis products. Employees using or selling ‘weed’ to other employees at work are also a concern.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, this is one area in which it is critical that your legal counsel not only be an employment lawyer, but an employment lawyer with a solid understanding of these issues, along with experience in handling such cases

Safety

In safety-sensitive workplaces, the critical issue of safety also arises, along with possible vicarious liability and, in cases involving serious safety violations and fatalities, the Criminal Code may also be involved.

Alcohol & Drug Policies

An alcohol and drug policy is now an important tool in safely operating any business, particularly those with workers who perform safety-sensitive activities or who are in risk-sensitive positions. Even in workplaces that are not safety-sensitive, an employer may nevertheless be well advised to implement an alcohol & drug policy to make clear what (if any) use it will tolerate.  Failure to have such a policy may present greater challenges to the employer's ability to effectively deal with employees who use drugs or alcohol.

An employer who wishes to commence a drug and alcohol testing program must do so carefully.  A well written, properly considered and properly introduced alcohol and drug use policy is a critical component, but is just one of the steps we recommend for employers, particularly those with workers who perform safety-sensitive activities.

Challenging a Drug Test

Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is legal in Canada.

An employee may be able to successfully challenge a drug and alcohol testing program if, among other things, it treads on areas with which the courts have expressed concern, or was not properly implemented.  An employee may also be able to successfully challenge a test, and any resulting disciplinary action, if irregularities occur during the testing process. Additionally, employees who use cannabis for medicinal purposes may attempt to challenge testing or subsequent disciplinary action taken by the employer at the human rights tribunal, claiming discrimination based on a disability or perceived disability.

If you are an employer, supervisor or site owner, we understand what your rights are and how to navigate these issues, so that you can rest assured you have on your side the expertise and experience you need to maintain worker safety and keep your business thriving.

If you are an employee or other worker, we understand what your rights are, what an informed employer will look for and is able to require from you, and what your next steps may be.

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY (O.H.&S.)

Workplace health and safety legislation is based upon the philosophy that everyone in the workplace has certain responsibilities for workplace health and safety. It is important that employers and employees each understand their respective rights and responsibilities for workplace health and safety, as well as those of owners, supervisors, prime contractors, and workers.

In British Columbia, occupational health and safety forms part of the Workers Compensation Act.

The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) contains certain legal requirements that must be met by all workplaces under the jurisdiction of WorkSafeBC. This includes most workplaces in B.C., except mines and federally chartered workplaces such as banks, interprovincial and international transportation, telephone systems, and radio, television, and cable services. Many sections of the OHSR have associated guidelines and policies, which are used to help interpret and apply the OHSR.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

Each of us have certain rights, simply by virtue of being human.  Human rights legislation provides protection, procedures and remedies for those who have experienced discrimination. Because these protections flow from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, human rights legislation is considered "quasi-constitutional".  This important legislation also often influences other pieces of legislation.

When a workplace human rights issue arises, the first step is to confirm whether the workplace is provincially or federally regulated. The summary on this website is based on the British Columbia Human Rights Code (HRC).  If the workplace is in Alberta, or is federally regulated, the regime will have many similarities, but will not be exactly the same.

Should your case involve a human rights issue, contact a lawyer promptly, because short limitation dates apply, particularly if provincial legislation applies.  Under B.C. provincial legislation, the time period within which a complaint must be commenced (the limitation period) is only 6 months. The limitation period under federal legislation is 1 year, which is also the limitation period under Alberta legislation.

Human rights legislation is administered by a human rights tribunal in each area of jurisdiction. Provincial human rights legislation applies to provincially regulated employers, the provincial government itself, provincial crown corporations, unions, professional associations, and tenants in landlord-tenant matters.

The "protected grounds", or the group characteristics that are protected from discrimination in employment vary depending on the applicable legislation.  See also bona fide occupational requirements (BFOR).