Workplace Harassment: Six Things You Can Do To Address It

The #MeToo movement has sparked conversations on and off social media about gender equality, violence against women, consent and bullying. Power imbalance has existed since the dawn of time. But as our societies become more modern and complex, the issues of power and inequality are far from being resolved. It seems that power is being exercised unfairly in every possible setting: in romantic relationships, in social functions, but also in the workplace. This begs the questions: what can employees do to address and prevent harassment in the office? Before this question can be answered, it is necessary to understand what actually constitutes harassment.

What is harassment?

Ontario legislation defines workplace harassment as vexatious comments or conduct against a worker in a workplace that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. This includes offensive, embarrassing, humiliating and demeaning words or actions against a worker or a group of workers. Common examples of harassment are:

  • making remarks, jokes or innuendoes that are meant to ridicule or intimidate;
  • circulating digital or hard copies of inappropriate material; or
  • calling someone or sending e-mails excessively.

Some behaviours, while frowned upon by some, do not necessarily fall under the definition of harassment. For instance, reprimand by a manager towards employees, heated discussions and debates or conveying indifference about someone or something would typically not be viewed as harassment. Most occurrences of harassment involve repetition of wrongful actions over some time. However, it is possible that a single event rise up to the status of harassment, especially if it quite egregious and damaging to the person targeted by the wrongful conduct. There is a fine line between being harassed and just being overly sensitive. When in doubt, get some legal advice to know whether or not your issues at work need to be addressed in a more formal manner.

What Can Employees Do To Address Workplace Harassment?

1. Learn and Follow Internal Workplace Policies

Employers have a duty to create and implement workplace harassment policies, and to review them annually. Employers must also have procedures in place allowing employees to place complaints and report incidents about harassment instances without fear of reprisal.

As an employee, it is important to take the time to review these policies and abide by them. If you have experienced harassment, do not wait for things to get better on their own – you should address the problem right away. Go talk to your direct supervisor and any human resource person about the incident in question. If you are a unionized employee, discuss with your union representative as soon as possible.

2. Keep Records of the Incident

Take notes of the words that were said to you or the behaviour geared towards you. If there were other individuals present during the harassment, write their names down. Make sure you keep track of the location and time where the incident took place and whether it actually occurred at work. If disturbing material was sent to you, make sure you keep a copy to support your allegations. These records will be of vital importance to discuss and support your allegations of harassment.

3. Attend Any Programs Available To You

Most workplaces will have certain programs to help employees who have been harassed. Find out whether there is a possibility for you to receive any assistance in a confidential manner. Do not be shy to be accommodated. For instance, it can be beneficial for a worker who experiences harassment by a manager to work in another department or at different hours if possible.

4. Call the Police

In some cases, instances of harassment amount to criminal behaviour. This can be the case where the unwelcomed behaviour comes from a person in a position of power. Generally, it is crucial to have the police involved in cases of bodily harm, unwelcomed touching and stalking. If a criminal investigation ensues, make sure the person being investigated is not allowed to contact you directly or indirectly.

5. Place a Complaint Before the Human Rights Tribunal

The Ontario Human Rights’ Tribunal deals with complaints based on discrimination and harassment. If internal remedies have been unsuccessful, employees may try to resolve their issues by having their dispute handled by an administrative tribunal.

The process involves making a written complaint, reviewing a response, attending a mediation session and finally having the matter heard before an impartial decision maker. Employees who believe they are being subject to harassment should not delay in bringing their claim forward. The Tribunal may refuse to hear matters where the events occurred over a year before the claim was brought before it.

6. Be Willing to Walk Away

As difficult as it is to say, not all matters can be resolved amicably. While employees can certainly take measures to prevent and address harassment, unfortunately, there are times where the harasser refuses to stop engaging in vexatious conduct. If an employee has exhausted all his or her avenues and is still being harassed, sometimes, the best thing to do is to walk away from the situation altogether and seek employment elsewhere. In that case, it can be helpful for the employee to obtain legal advice to negotiate a fair severance package prior to his or her departure.

Karen Kernisant is a lawyer at Aubry Campbell MacLean and practices in the areas of Employment and Family Law as well as Civil Litigation.

Why a Lawyer May be a Waste of Money: Top 3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Figure Out if You Really Need a Lawyer

It might be empowering to yell at your adversaries: "Tell it to my lawyer!" or "You'll be hearing from my lawyer!" or best of all: "My lawyer's more expensive than your lawyer!" (yes, I've actually had someone say this in my presence). But the reality is not everyone needs a lawyer.

There are many life events where lawyers simply don't add any value, or risk destroying value, or the cost of a lawyer outweighs the value of the thing in question. Many minor (and even some major) interpersonal disputes are only worsened by the early involvement of lawyers. Positions harden. Direct communication is no longer possible. Total victory at all costs becomes the sole goal. And the financial cost of that total victory quickly outstrips the objective value of the thing being fought over.

Resolving neighbour disputes, family disputes, or workplace disputes are often best accomplished without the initial involvement of lawyers. But - and this is a big BUT - if you're then planning to commit compromises you’ve worked out to paper in a binding legal contract for all time kind of way, you should definitely be thinking about a lawyer to tidy things up. 

Lawyers involved in the middle of messy disputes can get expensive, because of all the time involved cleaning up the mess. While if you’ve already consigned your mess to the trash, lawyers are relatively affordable garbage people to take out that trash. 

By contrast, when your goal is to create a legally binding promise where there currently is no dispute, you want a lawyer involved from the get go. You’ll find good value in having a lawyer sort out from the start your real estate transaction, will or power of attorney, or corporate-commerical business deal. Don’t involve a lawyer early, the parties later have a falling out, and you’re likely to wind up with exactly the kind of mess we were just talking about when lawyer involvement gets expensive. The early lawyer involvement creates legal certainty, thus minimizing later legal disputes.

Occasionally you will have a significant life problem, but it won’t be a legal problem with a legal solution. You might simply not get on with your neighbour, or your coworker, or your spouse. A lawyer can’t fix all human relationship problems. The lawyer can only set down in writing any fixes you have worked out that might be legally enforceable (permission for the neighbour to walk across your land, agreement of the co-worker to work different hours, agreement of the spouse through a marriage contract as to how assets will be split upon dissolution), or force a legal solution where the issues are justiciable (meaning a court can make a decision on them): stop the neighbour from trespassing on your land, but not stop the neighbour from being nasty to you; stop the co-worker from harassing you, but not stop the co-worker from working in the same building; decide how the marital property should be split, but not stop the marraige from breaking up.

Really lawyers are best employed when: (1) you have an important informal agreement - real estate or business sale or family separation - that you need reduced to a binding contract that can later be enforced; (2) you’ve attempted but failed to reach an informal agreement - dissolution of business partnership or land co-ownership or marriage - and now need to force the issue through lawyer-facilitated negotiation and possibly court action; (3) you need to create future legal certainty about property, yourself, your business or your family, such as through drafting a will, power of attorney, domestic contract, or incorporation of a company; (4) you are dealing with the government on issues of great importance to your future - immigration & citizenship, tax assessments, responding to criminal or regulatory charges, asserting indigenous or environmental rights - where the price of failure is high; (5) the law requires you to have a lawyer. 

There are three prime questions to ask yourself in determining whether you need a lawyer. 

1. What Are the Likely Lawyer Fees as Compared to the Price of Failure? 

Some things like child custody or personal freedom in staying out of jail may be priceless. Others like immigrating or obtaining citizenship in the country of your dreams, or saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on your tax bill, may have a huge personal value. Getting compensated for the tree your neighbour accidentally cut down on your property might have a lower value. 

A cost-benefit analysis is important to any decision to hire a lawyer. There are lawyers out there who don’t like to talk money. But really that is the key driver for many of our decisions in life. Deciding to hire a lawyer means giving up other things, so what you’re getting better be worth it.

So ask about fees up front. The lawyer might fairly tell you, “oh, that needs to be hourly.” And you then might be a bit put off by what seems like a high hourly fee. But if the work only takes a couple of hours, the fees could be less than that last major plumbing problem you had at home.

Ideally, you’ll be quoted a block fee. Some work can be predicted pretty closely as to effort, like appeals or drafting wills. Whereas other work will be dependent on the unpredictable actions of the opposing party, like family law: the other side consenting to what is being sought will be relatively inexpensive, whereas fighting you at every step will lead to significant expense. 

Generally fees for dealing with government - like on immigration applications or criminal charges - will be lower and more certain because government responds in relatively predictable ways. Fees for dealing with private parties - like in family court or for commercial disputes - will be higher and less certain because those parties will be unpredictable (they might fight a lot or not at all). Fees where there is no dispute at all (real estate transfer, incorporation, will drafting) will be lowest of all. 

2. Will Not Hiring a Lawyer Early Lead to Higher Legal Fees Later?

Doing your own immigration or citizenship application, fighting by yourself with the Canada Revenue Agency, or drafting up your own family separation agreement may all seem initially like a good budget idea. You might be strapped for cash, and understably need to prioritize expenses. So you figure you’re more than capable of filling out a few forms, or writing a few letters, or drafting up a domestic contract. 

And until you get that immigration rejection letter, or tax reassessment for $100,000, or wind up in a nasty family court fight, the DIY route might seem sensible. But the problem is you won’t be able to assess whether it was really a good idea until it’s too late. And at that point you could be forced to hire a lawyer to seek a judicial review for the rejection, go to Tax Court to appeal the assessment, or go to Family Court to enforce a skimpy settlement agreement, all at far, far greater cost than would have been the case to originally hire a lawyer to fill out that application, negotiate with the government, or commit your informal family settlement to writing in a binding way that will stand up in court. 

Not every government or family interaction justifies a lawyer. So you’ll need to carefully weigh the price of failure on a case by case basis compared to the early and later legal cost. 

3. Does the Law Require Me to Have a Lawyer?

Sometimes you have no choice but to hire a lawyer, because the politicians in drafting the laws have decided to require it. These situations are rare. Transferring real estate from one party to another in Ontario is one example of non-litigious solicitor-work where lawyers are mandatory. Civilly suing or being sued in Ontario's Superior Courts or the Federal Court under the name of a Corporation is another example (unless you bring a motion before the court for self-representation). The theory seems to be that if you have enough money to be buying or selling real estate, or to have a corporation, you have enough money to hire a lawyer. 

In all other legal situations, lawyers are optional. Traffic court. Small claims. Last will and testament. You need to weigh in each case, what is success worth to you? If you’re fighting over a $150 dollar traffic ticket, and the sole price of losing is $150, then a lawyer probably won’t be worth it. If you’ve unfortunately already racked up a few demerit points, and losing means forfeiting your driver’s licence, then probably a lawyer is worth it. 

 

Gordon S. Campbell is the Managing Lawyer of Aubry Campbell MacLean. Learn more at www.acmlawfirm.ca. 

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Ontario? Five Winning Tips for Saving Money on a Family Lawyer

There are essentially two types of divorce in Ontario: the really cheap divorce, and the really expensive divorce. The distinction between the two is less obvious than it initially seems.

If you ask everyone up front what kind of divorce they would like, they’ll invariably tell you the really cheap divorce. But they’ll then proceed to take actions (or inaction) which lead down a path to the really expensive divorce.

Divorce is really cheap - relatively speaking - if you aren’t planning to fight with your spouse over the dissolution of your marriage. You agree on property division. You agree on spousal support (or lack thereof). You agree on child custody and support. You then commit those agreements to paper, file a few documents with the court, and within 12 moths of separation you’re done. Magic. Divorce. And very low legal fees. 

Divorce can become very expensive if you can’t agree on all of those things with your ex, and one or both of you decide to go to court to let a judge decide on what’s fair. The irony is that an experienced family lawyer may have already told you (or your spouse) what the likely outcome of going to court will be, but you (or your spouse) believe you can do better. 

Of course one of the two parties to a divorce may be very reasonable, and still wind up with an expensive divorce because the other spouse isn’t reasonable. So in essence each of you need to pick the cheap divorce route, or you may default to the expensive route. 

Family law is one of the simpler areas of law in that it’s relatively new and has lots of written modern legislation governing it, rather than old dusty laws whose meaning no one can figure out. Family law is mostly just based on fairness (like splitting most property acquired during the marriage 50-50 and perhaps paying spousal support if there are significant income inequities), and best interests of the child.

So what’s the range of “really cheap” to “really expensive?” On the low end, under $5000 for a separation agreement and divorce. You might find it even cheaper than that, but remember that all lawyers have to sell is time, so the less you pay, the less time a lawyer will be spending negotiating and drafting your agreement, and making sure every T is crossed and I is dotted.

On the high end, really expensive means somewhere between $25,000 and $250,000! Crazy, eh? I’m not saying that most court-based divorces get to the quarter million mark. But more do than you might think if there are pre-trial motions, possibly interlocutory appeals, a lengthy trial, and then an appeal of that trial result. 

You can do the math for yourself. Take your lawyer’s hourly rate. Multiply by eight or so to get a daily rate. 

Multiply that number by the likely number of trial days required for a fully contested trial on all issues. Then further add the number of pre-trial case conference and settlement conference half-days that are likely. Then add some days for possible pre-trial motions. And also perhaps add time for an interlocutory (temporary) order appeal. And maybe a final order appeal.

Then take all those court days with lawyer time costs, and multiply by two or three, as prep time for court - all those court forms, affidavits, factums of legal argument, case conference briefs, books of authorities, correspondence to opposing counsel and the court, settlement negotiations with opposing counsel, trial witness and other evidence preparation - will likely take at least twice as long (as sometimes three times as long) as any court days they are linked to. So bet on two to three days of prep for any court day.

There, you’ve now got your $25,000 to $250,000 figure. 

So what are the tips for saving yourself lots of money on a family lawyer?

1. DO EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE TO KEEP YOUR CASE OUT OF COURT

While many divorcing spouses are focussed on the "big three" of property split, support, and custody, really it is the "big four" as legal costs to get to the optimal position on the big three is an equally important factor. 

Think you’re getting a bit of the short stick on custody conditions? Or on support? Or on property split? Ask your lawyer to take another shot at negotiations. Might only take another couple of hours of time. If that fails, think long and hard over whether court is worth it. 

Being told you’ll only see your child every second weekend, when you think alternating custody weeks 50-50 is fair, may be worth going to war over in court. But be sure you have the resources for that war. Not getting the used Buick - or perhaps the even newer Mercedes - you think you have the right to? Probably not worth it. 

2. BE ORGANIZED AND FIGURE OUT YOUR BOTTOM LINE BEFORE YOU MEET YOUR LAWYER

Figure out before you see a lawyer the details of what you believe to be fair on property division, support and custody. Don’t be vague, you need to be very, very specific. And bring lots of documents with you to your first lawyer meeting. Ideally, drop off those documents before the meeting, as that will make the first meeting more efficient. Boxes of documents wouldn’t overdo it. Lawyers are good at quickly scanning through reams of documents, but burn through through lots of time if they have to pull every small fact out of a client. 

Lawyers can quickly run up a bill if you are constantly being asked for new or missing documents. On your part, demand a required document list up front from the lawyer so you can pull everything together in one go. If you do wind up in court, documents will often be far more compelling proof than any oral testimony or sworn affidavit, because documents are independent evidence, often pre-dating the marital split. 

3. DON'T THINK IT'S A GOOD IDEA TO INITIATE LITIGATION JUST TO SCARE THE OTHER SIDE

Attempting to bluff your way into a more favourable settlement by starting a family court action, without the resources or resolve to follow through on it, is like pulling out that .357 Magnum Revolver from your belt, with the safety off, just because you intend to waive it around a bit to scare someone. We all know where that leads. Same with going to court as a bluff.

4. IF YOU DO WIND UP IN COURT, RACE TO THE FINISH LINE AS FAST AS YOU CAN

Time truly is money in the legal world. Three days in court costs 1/3 of nine days in court. So do your best to avoid multiple case conferences and lengthy trials. 

Some courts will try to trap you in the "never-ending case conference," in order to avoid you eating up court trial time. Don’t let the court do that to you. 

Push for a single settlement conference. Try to expedite any trial management conference. Try to do as much of the trial as possible on paper rather than through live witnesses unless credibility is a huge issue.

Ultimately it’s the court calling the procedural shots, but experienced lawyers know how to pick the right passage to shoot those court rapids, and not get hung up on the judicial rocks. 

5. DON’T TRY TO DO ANY OF THIS WITHOUT A LAWYER’S HELP 

Yes, I know lawyers are expensive. And I know my emphasis above on the relative simplicity of family law principles might even encourage you to believe that you can figure out the underlying theory. And you absolutely can.

But the problem is that you won’t be able to grasp the strategy and tactics required to get a good result in a timely manner before running through the process a few times. Lawyers often have the benefit of having had hundreds of clients they’ve run through the system. Doing it yourself, you would need to figure out how to get it right the first time. And that's just not possible. 

I’m often consulted on family law appeals to the Ontario’s Divisional Court or Court of Appeal (appeals are one of my “things”), by intelligent hard working people who tried to navigate the family court process themselves, often against a spouse who had a lawyer. The results can only be described as disastrous. Time and time again. The system shouldn’t work this way. I know that. But it does. 

Loss of child custody. Loss of $150,000 in family assets because of miscalculations on net family property. Ordered payments of spousal support when in fact support payments should have flowed the opposite way. I’ve seen all of that. 

I get that often these good people started out with lawyers, and dropped the lawyers for financial reasons, being left to soldier on by themselves. But when they came to me for an appeal, they were faced with much larger legal bills than they might have originally incurred in attempting to keep on their trial lawyers, or in hiring a trial lawyer in the first place. Everyone needs to be aware that the best shot you'll ever have at a fair result is at trial, not on appeal. 

So among your possibilities of getting legal help make sure your consider: (1) apply for legal aid, it never hurts to ask (though if you have a well paying job, you won’t get it); (2) budget for significant legal fees, and carefully assess your ability to borrow for those fees, as running out of money half way can be the worst scenario of all; (3) talk to lawyers who might be able to offer "unbundled" legal services, which sometimes includes acting as a “coach” - it’s a newer concept, and may produce mixed results at best if you’re forced to go to court by yourself armed only with a little bit of advice, but it's better than nothing; (4) carefully evaluate lawyers from the start of your case, so that you make an informed retainer choice, and just don’t grab anyone who might be available. You don’t want to wind up in the position of having paid a lawyer a lot of money to help you, and then have a falling out with that lawyer mid-case causing you to need to switch lawyers, and possibly being stuck in lawyer limbo for weeks or months while you try to find a replacement. 

Viewing each family law choice through the "really cheap divorce" lens is necessary in order to truly understand how much a divorce really costs in Ontario (or elsewhere). 

 

Gordon S. Campbell is a Family Law Barrister practicing throughout Ontario. Lean more at www.nofearfamilylaw.com

Trois raisons pour lesquelles votre demande d'asile à titre de réfugié au Canada sera refusée

Le Canada a été marqué par une arrivée accentuée de migrants de divers pays au cours de l’année 2017. Cette vague de nouveaux arrivés s’est surtout fait ressentir dans les provinces du Québec et de l’Ontario. Selon les dernières données divulguées par le ministère de l’Immigration, Réfugiés et Citoyenneté Canada, plus de 45 000 personnes se seraient présentées par voie terrestre, aérienne ou maritime pour demander l’asile au Canada. Parmi ces personnes, certains ont été interceptés par les agents de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada en raison de leur entrée irrégulière sur le territoire canadien.

En raison du volume des dossiers, plusieurs demandeurs d’asile demeurent toujours dans l’attente d’une audience devant la Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié (CISR) pour recevoir une réponse définitive relativement à leur demande. Alors que le délai d’attente est habituellement de 30 à 60 jours, il n’est pas hors du commun de nos jours que les demandes d’asile déposées pendant l’été ou l’automne 2017 soient traitées après plus de six mois.

Ces délais peuvent paraître excessivement longs pour ceux et celles qui cherchent à être reconnu comme réfugiés au Canada, notamment lorsqu’on apprend qu’une grande majorité des dossiers traités par la CISR sont rejetés. Déposer une demande d’asile ne se résume pas tout simplement à remplir un formulaire et se présenter à une audience. La CISR tient compte de plusieurs facteurs avant de rendre une décision sur la recevabilité et le bien-fondé d’une demande d’asile. Cet article peut vous mettre sur le droit chemin quant aux erreurs à éviter lors du dépôt d’une demande d’asile au Canada.

1. Votre demande d’asile n’est pas fondée sur des motifs valables

Un « réfugié » au sens de la Convention

Selon la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés, LC 2001, ch 27, pour être considéré comme un réfugié, il faut satisfaire les critères suivants :

  • se trouver à l’extérieur de son pays d’origine ou du pays où l’on réside habituellement au moment de la demande; et

  • avoir une sincère crainte de persécution en raison de sa race, sa religion, son opinion politique, sa nationalité, son appartenance à un groupe social ou son orientation sexuelle ou encore toute combinaison des motifs précités.

S’il n’existe aucun élément qui indique que le demandeur d’asile a une crainte sincère pour un motif de persécution valable, la demande d’asile sera jugée irrecevable d’office. Par exemple, la difficulté économique et la commission d’actes violents généraux ne sont habituellement pas considérés comme des motifs valables pour demander l’asile au Canada.

Les personnes à protéger peuvent aussi obtenir le statut de réfugié

En outre, il est aussi possible d’obtenir le statut de réfugié pour les personnes à protéger dans les cas suivants :

  • le demandeur risque d’être torturé s’il retourne dans son pays d’origine ou le pays où il réside habituellement;

  • la vie du demandeur risque d’être menacée s’il retourne dans son pays d’origine ou le pays où il réside habituellement; ou

  • le demandeur risque de subir des traitements cruels ou inusités s’il retourne dans son pays d’origine ou le pays où il réside habituellement.

Bien entendu, cette crainte doit être fondée sur une croyance sincère et honnête. À cet effet, le demandeur d’asile doit tenter de présenter toute preuve possible en sa possession pour montrer que sa crainte est basée sur des critères objectifs et plausibles.

Les demandes d’asiles irrecevables au Canada

Dans les cas ci-dessous, la demande d’asile envoyée au CISR est automatique jugée irrecevable et est donc rejetée :

  • le demandeur d’asile a présenté une demande d’asile dans un autre pays où il peut retourner;

  • le demandeur d’asile a déjà le statut de personne protégée au Canada;

  • le demandeur d’asile se trouvait aux États-Unis avant de présenter sa demande au Canada;

  • l’entrée au Canada a été refusée au demandeur d’asile pour des raisons de sécurités, d’activités criminelles ou d’atteinte aux droits de la personne;

  • le demandeur d’asile a déjà présenté une demande jugée irrecevable dans le passé;

  • le demandeur d’asile a déjà présenté une demande qui a été rejetée par la CISR; et

  • le demandeur d’asile s’est désisté volontairement ou involontairement de sa demande.

2. Votre demande d’asile aurait dû être présentée dans un autre pays que le Canada

La recherche d’une région sans persécution

La demande d’asile au Canada devrait être perçue comme une méthode de dernier recours pour sortir d’un pays. Avant de se présenter à la frontière canadienne, le demandeur d’asile devrait essayer de trouver refuge dans une autre zone de son pays. Spécifiquement, le demandeur d’asile doit être en mesure d’expliquer la raison pour laquelle il n’était pas en sécurité dans une autre partie du pays, notamment si la source de la persécution n’est pas présente dans d’autres régions du pays d’origine du demandeur d’asile.

L’importance de chercher de l’aide dans son pays d’origine

Le demandeur d’asile doit aussi essayer d’obtenir de l’aide des autorités policières ou d’organismes locaux pour être protégés des personnes ou groupes de personnes qui cherchent à le menacer. Dans la mesure où cette étape n’est pas suivie, la demande d’asile paraît moins crédible.

Le passage dans un pays autre que le Canada

Certaines personnes passent par d’autres pays avant d’arriver au Canada pour demander l’asile. Celui qui cherche à bénéficier des protections internationales doit démontrer qu’il a tenté de trouver refuge dès que possible. Ainsi, le fait de voyager d’un pays à l’autre avant de se présenter au Canada nuit les chances du demandeur d’asile.

C’est particulièrement le cas des demandeurs d’asile qui se trouvent aux États-Unis avant d’entrer au Canada. Les gouvernements américain et canadien ont une entente selon laquelle toute personne qui se trouve dans un des deux pays doit présenter sa demande d’asile dans ce pays spécifiquement.

Ainsi, si une personne prétend être persécutée et qu’elle passe par les États-Unis avant de se présenter à la frontière américano-canadienne, elle a l’obligation de faire sa demande d’asile aux États-Unis et non au Canada. Les autorités d’immigration au Canada pourraient donc refuser d’entendre toute demande issue d’un demandeur d’asile ayant séjourné aux États-Unis.

3. Votre demande d’asile contient des omissions ou des renseignements erronés

La vérification des renseignements

Il est important de vérifier la véracité des renseignements indiqués dans la demande d’asile, notamment en ce qui a trait aux dates, aux noms de personnes appropriées, aux lieux, etc. De plus, il incombe au demandeur d’asile de s’assurer que toute information requise est effectivement fournie aux autorités d’immigration.

L’omission volontaire ou involontaire

Trop souvent, certaines personnes se voient refuser l’asile parce qu’ils ont, intentionnellement ou non, commis des erreurs en remplissant les formulaires de demande d’asile. Il n’est pas dans l’intérêt du demandeur d’asile d’exclure des informations en pensant qu’elles pourraient nuire à ses chances de succès. La moindre omission constitue une fausse représentation selon la CISR, ce qui engendre le rejet de la demande d’asile.

Sachez que les agents d’immigration vérifient les renseignements fournis par le demandeur d’asile, même s’il provient d’une région reculée ou d’un pays géographiquement loin du Canada. En cas de doute, il est toujours préférable d’être sincère et de divulguer le plus de renseignements à sa disposition.

La preuve à l’appui de la demande d’asile

Dans la mesure du possible, il est primordial d’inclure des éléments de preuve pour appuyer la demande d’asile : articles de journaux, lettres, photos, preuve d’appartenance à un groupe, témoignages, etc. Tout type de preuve est accepté par la CISR. Bien évidemment, il faut s’assurer que la preuve soumise corrobore l’information inscrite dans la demande d’asile. En cas d’incohérence, il est possible que les autorités d’immigration rejettent la demande d’asile en raison du manque de crédibilité.

En bref, ce qu’il faut retenir du processus de demande d’asile, c’est qu’il contient plusieurs subtilités qui échappent à la majorité, d’où la raison pour laquelle autant de demandes sont rejetées chaque année par la CISR. Par prudence, il est préférable de demander conseil à un représentant juridique qui peut assister dans les démarches de la demande et faciliter le processus de demande d’asile.

Karen Kernisant est avocate à Aubry Campbell MacLean et exerce dans les domaines du droit de l’immigration, du droit de la famille et du droit criminel.

Top 4 Things NOT To Do If You Need to Dismiss an Employee

Small and larger business owners need to make difficult decisions everyday: acquire new clients, build relationships with interested stakeholders, pay invoices, redefine their brand and ensure staff are completing all assigned tasks. Given that an employer-employee relationship evolves over time, managers sometimes must make the difficult decision of terminating a person’s employment. There is no perfect way to dismiss an employee but there are some things managers should simply not do when letting an employee go.

Mislead Employees About their Rights

The Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 41, is meant to protect both employers and employees alike. While management can certainly put an end to the employer-employee relationship, it has a duty to remain honest to the employee. Employers should never misinform employees about the amount of money they are entitled to under the Act.

An employee is entitled to notice of termination if he or she has been continuously employed for at least three months. Rather than giving an employee notice, employers can also pay termination pay. The amount of notice to give to an employee depends on the period of employment of that person. More information on the required notice can be found here

If an employee has specific questions about their rights and amount of notice they are entitled to, it is good practice for employers to encourage employees to seek independent legal advice on the matter.

Force the Employee to Sign a Release the Day of Termination

Whether employees choose to exercise their right to get legal advice, employers should always make sure employees have had reasonable time to review their termination package. Particularly because managers are in a position of power, in order for any signed release to remain binding and enforceable, it is beneficial not to rush the process of termination. There will always be time to sign a release at a later date. Releases signed under pressure may be set aside in certain circumstances by courts.

Prevent an Employee From Retrieving Personal Belongings

When an employee finds out they have just been fired, they generally feel very vulnerable. Expect them to be emotional, argumentative and sometimes even irrational. Whatever you do, do not add fuel to the fire. Keep the meeting short and brief. Know exactly what you are going to say, invite only those who need to be present and always make sure you have done the necessary steps to protect sensitive information.

This may entail coordinating with your IT department to disconnect any digital access the employee has to certain databases, store files away and changing certain codes or passwords. While it is important to make sure that any client or third-party file be kept safe, it is bad practice to give the employee the walk of shame by having a security guard escort them out of the building in front of other employees. The employee is already hurting from the employer’s decision, let them keep their dignity. Allow them to retrieve their personal belongings after work hours when most staff have left them office.

It is however reasonable to ask for them to return any keys, cards or parking pass to reduce access to the building. If the employee was provided with a business credit card, make the necessary arrangements to have the card returned and contact your financial institution right away to inform them the employee in question no longer has authorization to make any transactions on the business’ behalf.

Discuss the Termination With Others

Many people in businesses, especially larger ones, enjoy gossiping – that includes those in management positions too! As tempting as it is to discuss an employee’s termination with others, resist the urge. As an employer, if you decide to dismiss an employee, it is safer to send a brief general e-mail letting others know that the terminated employee will no longer be with your business. Leave any other details out. If employees ask questions, respectfully decline to comment. Also avoid discussing these matters outside the workplace. It generally makes the employer look worse than the employee. In the worst of scenarios, this may entice a disgruntled employee to commence a lawsuit for defamation against you.

Karen Kernisant is a lawyer at Aubry Campbell MacLean and practices Employment and Family Law as well as Civil Litigation.

Faut-il toujours exiger un état financier de son ex-conjoint lors d’un divorce?

Lorsque deux époux décident de mettre un terme à leur mariage, la séparation des biens matrimoniaux devient souvent une source de conflits. C’est une des raisons pour lesquelles la Loi sur le droit de la famille, L.R.O., 1990, c. F.3 prévoit que les époux doivent mutuellement échanger leurs états financiers pour faciliter une séparation juste et équitable.

Qu’est-ce qu’un état financier?

L’état financier est un formulaire rempli par chaque époux où chaque partie divulgue à l’autre son salaire et toute autre source de revenu, ses dépenses, ses dettes et la totalité des biens matrimoniaux. Sauf certaines exceptions, la Loi sur le droit de la famille édicte que chaque époux à droit à la moitié de la valeur des biens accumulés pendant le mariage jusqu’à la date de séparation. La divulgation financière constitue donc une étape cruciale du divorce.

Les époux doivent-ils divulguer d’autres documents financiers?

Chaque époux peut aussi exiger de recevoir des documents supplémentaires pour vérifier la véracité des renseignements indiqués par l’autre partie dans son état financier. Il peut aussi d’être une bonne idée de demander une copie des reçus pour les dépenses du foyer conjugal, les relevés d’impôts et relevés bancaires de l’autre époux, les détails sur une police d’assurance de l’autre époux, un rapport d’expert sur la valeur d’un bien ou toute documentation qui permet à l’époux d’effectuer des choix éclairés sur la séparation des biens matrimoniaux.

L’échange d’états financiers est-il toujours obligatoire?

L’échange des états financiers n’est pas obligatoire dans les cas suivants:

  • La demande de divorce ne comporte aucune demande de pension alimentaire et aucune séparation des biens ;

  • Le montant de pension alimentaire pour l’enfant demandé est celui prévu par les Lignes directrices fédérales ou provinciales sur les pensions alimentaires pour enfants ; et

  • Les deux époux ont soumis une motion en modification de la pension alimentaire et sont d’accord de ne pas divulguer leurs états financiers.

En cas de doute, il est toujours mieux de demander le plus des précisions sur les actifs et les dettes d’un époux afin de pouvoir négocier un accord de séparation qui est juste. Néanmoins, il existe certaines situations où la divulgation financière n’est pas importante, voire même inutile.

Les époux ont des biens qui ont peu de valeur

L’obligation de divulguer un état financier permet de rétablir un équilibre économique entre les époux, notamment lorsqu’il y a une disparité considérable entre leurs salaires. Dans les cas où les deux époux ne travaillent pas, leur unique source de revenu provient souvent des programmes d’assistance sociale prévus par le gouvernement provincial.

Puisque cette source de revenu est faible, les époux se retrouvent dans une situation où ils ne peuvent se permettre de se procurer une grande quantité de biens. Par ailleurs, les personnes à revenu faible n’ont habituellement pas les moyens d’acheter une maison ou un autre type d’habitation. Le foyer conjugal est, pour la majorité des ménages, le bien de plus grande valeur. Dans la mesure où le couple n’est pas propriétaire de leur foyer conjugal, que les meubles ont peu de valeur et que le couple n’a pas de véhicule, la nécessité d’obtenir un état financier devient moins importante.

Un des époux possède des biens à l’international

Chaque partie a l’obligation d’affirmer de façon solennelle que toutes ses déclarations dans l’état financiers sont vraies. Pour vérifier la véracité d’une déclaration, un époux peut demander à l’autre époux de joindre des documents supplémentaires pour appuyer la déclaration. Cela dit, il incombe à celui qui demande des renseignements additionnels de vérifier la véracité de l’information donnée.

Si un des époux est propriétaire de biens ou de sommes monétaires situés à l’international, il est très difficile et dispendieux pour l’autre époux de faire les enquêtes nécessaires pour vérifier la véracité de l’état financier. S’il n’est pas possible pour une partie de vérifier l’exactitude des déclarations de la partie adverse, l’état financier est alors inutile.

Les époux ont conclu un accord sur la séparation des biens

Les époux devraient essayer de se mettre d’accord sur le plus de points possibles lorsqu’ils décident de mettre fin à leur mariage. Si les époux sont satisfaits qu’ils ont suffisamment d’information sur l’un l’autre et trouvent qu’il n’est pas nécessaire pour eux d’échanger leurs états financiers pour prendre des décisions financières à propos de la séparation de leurs biens, il est possible pour eux de signer un contrat de séparation sans avoir plus d’information sur la situation économique de leur époux.Les époux peuvent envisager cette option dans les cas où la valeur de leurs biens et de leurs dettes est plus ou moins égale et qu’ils sont certains que la divulgation d’un état financier n’aura aucune incidence sur leurs décisions pour séparer les biens matrimoniaux.

Même si vous pensez avoir obtenu tous les détails financiers de votre ancien époux, assurez-vous toujours d’obtenir des conseils juridiques d’un avocat avant de signer un contrat de séparation ou de finaliser votre divorce pour être certain que vos intérêts économiques sont protégés.

Karen Kernisant est avocate à Aubry Campbell MacLean et pratique le droit partout en Ontario dans les domaines suivants: droit de la famille, droit de l’emploi, contentieux civil, droit de l’immigration et droit criminel.