Tread lightly as an employee

In my previous item, I offered my five favorite employer errors. Here are my top five mistakes employees  make at work:

Not reviewing an employment contract – Not many clients I encounter want their employer to be able to demote them, cut their salary, dismiss them without notice, or even banish them to a remote location. However, employment contracts are written by the employer and are usually loaded with language protecting the company’s own legal position. Despite laws that construe ambiguous terms in the employee’s favour, if the contract has been reviewed and signed before employment begins, an employee is often held to the deal that was made, whether it is fair or not.

Protest disciplinary letters or negative performance reviews – Unless you challenge discipline or negative appraisals, your employer’s view of events lurks undisputed in your human resources file, waiting to be used should the need arise or if your employer is predisposed to build a case for cause.Unless you agree with the cants and content of the discipline, respond immediately and assert your view of the events and any mitigating factors.

Negotiate termination packages – While employees are seldom deprived of the opportunity to meet with a lawyer – and often are encouraged to do so – not all heed this advice. My initial demand letters on behalf of dismissed employees usually seek five or six concessions. A stark contrast to to average one or two that are known by employees prior to meeting with me.

Don’t rush to judgment – If you have a dispute with your employer, consider a mediation or other sort of resolution to solve the problem. A British Columbia court recently ruled that cause for dismissal is developed when an employee has filed a lawsuit against his or her current employer. Employees should keep in mind that a sincere intention to resolve a dispute at the outset will pay dividends in a future legal action.

Misusing email and internet – Employers own the communications equipment and systems and can review on-line habits at their pleasure. If you want assurance that you’re not crossing the line by committing such actions as checking your personal email, facebook account, or investment portfolio, employees should review all computer policies in place and use discretion when loggin on.

Daniel A. Lublin is a Toronto Employment Lawyer specializing in the law of wrongful dismissal.  He can be reached at [email protected] or visit