Conflict Resolution: mediation, arbitration & workplace investigations

In the fields of labour and employment, my experience has been atypical for an Ontario lawyer. I acted for many years almost exclusively for unions and employees, and subsequently almost exclusively for employers, in union and non-union shops. This experience on “both sides”, informs my understanding of the needs and goals of parties to employment and labour disputes.

Having practiced in Toronto for over a decade, I relocated in the 1990’s to Waterloo Region, from which I served clients throughout Southwestern Ontario and the GTA.

I also served as Managing Partner of the Waterloo Region Office of Gowling WLG and was a member of a national management committee at that Firm for 12 years. Through that experience I gained significant understanding of the challenges facing employers as they make decisions and the impact of those decisions on employees. Those issues often surface at the mediation table.

In practice I was recognized in labour and employment law by Lexpert and Best Lawyers in Canada. I have represented parties through arbitration, trials and appeals including several cases heard by the Supreme Court of Canada, but in most cases I represented parties in settlement. That is what I seek to do in offering my services as a mediator: help parties and their lawyers find an acceptable road to settlement if one exists.

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Mediation

Through 35 years of practice I have represented unions and grievors, employers in union and non-union environments and employees. I have acted for parties in commercial and employment disputes, leading to arbitrations, or trials and appeals at the Ontario Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Almost every case has involved some form of mediation.

Through this experience, I have developed a strong view that parties are best served by a settlement they design. Having always served on one side of the dispute, I now dedicate my efforts to a neutral role, helping parties reach that settlement.

Settlement is reached by the parties and their lawyers. The mediator helps that process and the parties, but does not own it. On the other hand the mediator should not simply be a courier, passing offers between the parties. The parties deserve to hear a well-reasoned analysis of the case from a neutral third party.

I offer mediation of employment and commercial disputes, and assist organizations or privately held corporations address issues such as succession or internal disputes. Mediation in such circumstances offers a private and confidential alternative to litigation in the public arena.

Arbitration

In my experience, parties to labour arbitration are best served by an arbitrator who is mindful of opportunities to assist parties through mediation of the dispute, but also accepts the reality that in some cases the parties need to see the process through and receive a decision from a neutral third party. In other words, the arbitrator’s desire to see settlement in any particular case should not be pressed upon unwilling parties.

I am pleased to offer arbitration services in labour, employment and commercial disputes, and, if desired, med-arb. I bring years of experience to the process, having appeared before arbitrators representing the union and the employer over the course of my career.

Workplace Investigations

I offer workplace investigations services which fulfill the employer’s obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code, and align with procedures set out in workplace policies. My investigation will be appropriate for the circumstances, assuring procedural fairness, and fully addressing matters raised by the complaint, but the scope of inquiry will not be expanded beyond the complaint without specific instructions from the employer.

Investigations must be timely. I only accept investigation retainers if I can begin work promptly and dedicate near exclusive time and attention to the matter, allowing me to complete investigations and deliver reports within two to five weeks in most cases.

Representative work:

  • Investigation into a conflict of interest allegation against a President of an Ontario post-secondary educational institution;
  • Investigation into harassment and reprisal allegations against senior staff at a major Ontario municipality
  • Investigation into harassment allegation at the Ontario branch of US multi-national corporation
  • Investigation into allegations of harassment and bullying at a local employer

References and fee for workplace investigations available on request.