Why this post? Why now?
You, like many others, might be wondering why Franklin Law is so committed to offering courses and workshops to employees and other workers. You might say, “You are lawyers not teachers… you are most effective in the courtroom not the classroom and that’s where you you should focus your energy”. You might think, “Employers should train their employees, and, when you force employees to pay for courses, you are letting employers off of the hook”. You might argue, “Legal knowledge is great but what employees need is legal representation”. A few days ago, I had an opportunity to reflect on questions like these, and I wanted to share with you my thoughts about why Franklin Law has remain so steadfastly committed to fighting injustice at work using a variety of strategies, that include providing employees with advice through our conventional consultations and consultation clinics, representing employees at tribunals and in the courts, and providing employees with legal information through our Employees First series of courses and workshops.
What are some of the problems that employees typically face when fighting injustice at work?
There are several barriers that you, and other employees and workers, can expect to face when you attempt to fight injustice at work.
Knowledge as a barrier. Many employees do not know about their legal rights or who to turn to get trustworthy legal information or advice about their rights. That applies both proactively in situations where employees have a sense that something is wrong in their workplaces, and they want to do everything in their power to resolve those situation while ensuring that they are getting the full benefit of the employment and human rights related protections that they are entitled to. That also applies reactively in situations where employees know that their rights have been violated but are unable to articulate or frame the wrongdoing in a way that might create space for them to rectify the situation and hold their employers accountable.
Financial and other resources as a barrier. Many employees, particularly those whose rights have been violated at work, never expected that they would find themselves in such a dire situation. For years, workers like these went to work without issue. They expected that things would continue that way. They expected that they would go to work each day and would get paid every two weeks. They didn’t put a lot of effort or energy into putting money aside for a rainy day when they might need cash to get answers to their legal questions and sue their employers. For these employees, Franklin Law’s conventional consultations and consultation clinic – although incredibly reasonably priced – may not be a viable option given their financial situation. It’s not that they don’t see the value of meeting with select lawyers who are committed to supporting, advising, and representing employees and other workers… they do. But faced with the choice of either meeting other pressing financial obligations like paying rent or putting food on the table, and getting legal advice that may or may not support their desire to hold their employers accountable, most employees will understandably choose to focus on the necessities of life.
Access to justice as a barrier. Even if employees have the money and the time, the reality is that many employment lawyers, human rights lawyers, and labour lawyers, do not represent employees and other workers. Many represent employers and have no interest whatsoever in helping employees to hold employers accountable. Even those employment lawyers, human rights lawyers, and labour lawyers who profess a commitment to representing workers, may not represent unionized employees on an individual basis, may not have a strong interest in holding Unions accountable, or may be conflicted out of work against a certain employer for one reason or another. Indeed, while Franklin Law is one of a few law firms in Ontario that represents non-unionized and unionized employees and works extremely hard to minimize situations where we might be conflicted out of work against an employer, we too – for reasons largely out of our control – cannot provide legal advice to or represent every employee or other worker that comes through our doors.
The playing field as a barrier. When it comes to understanding and enforcing legal rights in the workplace, workers and their employers have never competed on a level playing field. Today’s employer is more sophisticated than ever and has various tools at its disposal to thwart employees’ attempts to secure justice. Employers not only have more money than most workers but websites focused exclusively on protecting employers’ interests in the workplace have seemingly sprung up over night. These websites provide employers with the ability to share legal information between and forge networks with lawyers and human resources professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. Employees have limited options in comparison. Many workers are self-represented and are woefully unprepared for the harsh realities of our legal system. They also work in isolation and do not have access to the same networks that employers can use to discuss legal strategies that might better protect their interests. Absent insightful and practical information about their workplace rights, their employers’ legal obligations, and their legal options, many employees proceed in an uninformed manner and become disillusioned when the legal system doesn’t deliver the justice that they deserve.
How does Franklin Law’s Employees First series of courses and workshops address these problems?
Our Employees First courses and workshops are a direct reflection of Franklin Law’s commitment to cost-effectively increasing the amount of the options that are available to employees and other workers who have been wrongfully dismissed, discriminated against, harassed, or reprised against, or whose workplace rights have been infringed in other ways. Our employee focused courses and workshops offer a first but important step in solving these problems. Our courses provide workers like you with immediate access to practical and trustworthy information, specifically geared to helping employees – only employees – better under their rights and secure justice at work. Our courses and workshops are also presented from a worker’s perspective – from your perspective – and include information that employers (and perhaps many lawyers) would rather you not know. Because Franklin Law’s courses and workshops are designed with workers in mind, they are low cost and focus exclusively on the legal issues and legal spaces in which disputes between employers and employees (and Unions and their members) occur most often, including matters before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO), the Courts, the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB), the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). While we do not provide legal advice in our courses and workshops, we provide valuable legal information and insights into human rights, duty of fair representation, wrongful dismissal, and other employment law, human rights law, and labour law matters where access to our conventional consultations and consultation clinics may not be available to an employee or other worker for one reason or another. They also allow Franklin Law to promote access to justice by reaching a much larger group of employees, at a much lower cost, than we otherwise would be able to through our conventional consultations and consultation clinics.
What are some of the courses and workshops that Franklin Law is currently offering?
September 9, 2019 – The Duty of Fair Representation Course for Unionized Employees
September 16, 2019 – What every Employee needs to know about the Human Rights Code and the HRTO
September 23, 2019 – The Human Rights Law Workshop for Unionized Employees
How do you get more information about Franklin Law’s Employees First series of courses and workshops?
There are many ways to get more information about our courses and workshops. You can visit the courses section of Franklin Law’s website here.You can visit our course listings on Meetup here. You can follow us on Facebook here. And of course, you can call us at 416-572-8525, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.