Edmonton Corporate Law Blog

Minimizing retaliation in harassment investigations

Alberta businesses who have employees must prepare to deal with personalities that do not get along. Claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment could crop up at any time and business owners need to make sure that they have appropriate policies and procedures to deal with them. It is not enough to have protocols for discrimination or harassment investigations, but also to handle retaliation against complainants or witnesses by those that are accused of harassment or others that are sympathetic to the accused.

Everyone within the organization needs to understand the company's policy against retaliation for making complaints or participating in investigations. Training sessions should be held periodically to ensure every employee knows the company's expectations and the repercussions of violating those policies.

When it comes to business law, numerous choices are required

Starting a small company here in Alberta comes with mixed emotions. Excitement, trepidation and more can make the decision-making process challenging if done alone. Choosing an entity structure is an important part of the process, but it is only one choice entrepreneurs need to consider as they work to make their visions come to life. Business law encompasses a wide variety of circumstances and situations that could be encountered when embarking on a new venture.

Business law allows flexibility in choosing a structure

Entrepreneurs here in Alberta and across the country have several decisions to make as they get ready to open their doors. One of the most essential is the type of business structure under which they will operate. Fortunately, business law allows flexibility in this area since a company can change its structure when necessary.

For example, if an entrepreneur starts out on his or her own, it would probably be more advantageous to choose to operate under a trade name. This is an unincorporated business owned by one person or entity also referred to as a sole proprietorship. Since the law does not distinguish between the business and its owner, he or she takes full responsibility for the good and the bad, including liability, profits and losses, and decision-making, among other things. The entrepreneur must weigh the potential tax and financial benefits of a proprietorship against the potential risks of the business and assuming personal liability if something goes wrong. Whether it is a negligent act or omission, or the debts of the business, a proprietor will be solely and personally liable for the costs that arise. 

Corinne Petersen Rejoins the Benchers Table

Kingsgate Legal is proud to announce Corinne Petersen has rejoined the Law Society Board of Directors. The Board provides strategic direction to the Law Society of Alberta focusing on governance and adjudication. We are excited to have one of our very own helping to ensure our legal profession is regulated in the public interest in a fair and responsible manner. Congratulations, Corinne!

Are your business's harassment investigations above reproach?

Employers have an obligation to provide a work environment that is free of bullying, harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate workplace behavior. To protect your company, you need to make sure that your workplace investigations are timely, fair and impartial.

The first line of defense begins with your policies and procedures. Outlining behaviors that your company will not tolerate is important. Thereafter, you need a comprehensive investigation procedure to follow when harassment complaints arise. Today, more and more companies are sending their investigations externally for reasons of impartiality and fairness. Whether internal or external, investigations should be done by someone who has the proper training, time and resources to do the work.

Protecting trade secrets is different from protecting other IP

Protecting intellectual property should remain a priority for Alberta businesses as long as the company and/or the IP exists. This means keeping up on protection methods for these items such as patents, copyrights and more. However, when it comes to trade secrets, the protection process can be more complex.

Business law matters: Negotiating a commercial lease

For those looking to rent commercial property in Alberta, getting a good deal could make the difference in growing a successful business. Rent payments often require a large chunk of a business's budget, and working toward receiving the best possible deal is paramount. When it comes to business law matters, negotiating a commercial lease is not just a desire, but a requirement in many instances.

It helps to go into the negotiations with as thorough an understanding as possible of the budget and property requirements for the business. Too much space could end up costing money a company does not have, and too little could make the space less usable, which could prevent it from reaching its earning potential. Potential renters also need to understand that commercial property leases often include other charges on top of the base rent. Failing to account for them could be disastrous.

Avoiding claims of harassment at office holiday parties

After recent events that led to the #metoo movement, employers may be feeling unsure of how to proceed when it comes to holiday parties. Because only a small percentage of employees are responsible for the inappropriate and predatory behaviour, some Alberta business owners and managers feel it would be unfair to eliminate holiday parties altogether. Instead, they are taking a close look at their harassment policies.

One common element in many incidents of harassment at office parties is alcohol. Free-flowing alcohol can lead to a loss of inhibitions, which may lead to regrettable and even harmful actions between co-workers. Limiting the amount of alcohol attendees can consume, for example distributing tickets for drinks, can reduce the chances that the party will get out of control.

Alberta's Whistleblower Protection Reach Expands To Investment World

In Alberta, public sector employees and political staff are afforded certain protections when it comes to disclosing unlawful matters or issues that may be harmful to the public interest. In the interest of promoting a culture where openness, honesty, and accountability are prioritized, the legislation helps ensure confidentiality, a transparent process, and a strict set of penalties if reprisals are committed.

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