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Legal Guide

An employer may enter into a written employment contract with an employee. This is often the case with senior management personnel. Letters of hire, formal legal memoranda or even general policy booklets setting out wages and benefits, will all form part of an employee’s contract of employment. As well as clearly identifying the terms and conditions of the employment bargain, written contracts can limit employer liability in the event employment is terminated (although such terms may not be valid under the Civil Code of Québec, as an employee may not renounce his or her right to a reasonable notice in an employment contract), and include covenants limiting competition after dismissal and guarding against solicitation of the employer’s customers. Without a written contract, the employer will be determined to have entered into an oral contract, generally of indefinite hire, which can be terminated only on provision of reasonable notice, to be determined by the courts and, in Quebec, also by administrative tribunals if the claim is filed before the Commission des norms du travail. Pursuant to the Civil Code of Québec, a stipulation of non-compete may not be enforceable where the employee is terminated without just and sufficient cause.

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“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

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In an interesting decision, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario has ruled that an employer is not liable for discriminatory and harassing texts sent by a rogue employee to another of its workers.

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