Christin Elawny is a labour and employment lawyer helping both non-unionized and unionized employers with complex claims, planning and other employment-related needs.
Christin's clients seek her help with issues such as hiring and termination planning, defending claims and grievances and developing preventative policies and procedures for employment agreements that protect employers and support workplace human rights. She has appeared before the Provincial Court of Alberta, the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba.
Clients appreciate Christin’s practical focus on their business objectives and her ability to plan and mitigate risk from every perspective of the employer-employee relationship. Christin's clients regularly turn to her when they're facing difficult employment-related issues, such as:
- Collective bargaining and agreements administration
- Discipline and termination, wrongful dismissal claims and grievance arbitration
- Workplace human rights and Provincial and Federal Human Rights Commission complaints
- Employment and executive agreements and severance agreements
- Employment standards and hiring practices
- Discrimination, duty to accommodate employees and respectful workplace policies
- General management of employees, in union and non-union settings
- Planning and developing policies and procedures
Christin helps employers plan for the future and believes that proper planning and development of policies and procedures will ensure compliance and mitigate vulnerabilities.
Value to Clients
Many of the issues employers face relate to human rights. Christin works with clients on establishing policies and procedures around human resource issues such as validating sick leaves and long-term disability. In addition, Christin helps employers by addressing the many questions and issues raised by the use of medical marijuana in the workplace and impending legalization of marijuana.
Outside the Office
Christin loves being a mom and enjoys fitness. She is an avid reader (some of her favorite books include Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Dark Tower series by Stephen King) and she is a literacy advocate who believes that the ability to read is a vital skill which allows individuals to fully participate in a vibrant and positive society. She supports literacy in the community by working with the CanLearn Society.
How best to communicate termination policy changes
Our client: In 2015, a firm in the energy industry had to process several terminations in Alberta following an economic downturn.
Where we began: The company was concerned about payments to employees under its existing termination policy and about managing payouts in the future. Complicating matters was that employees were aware of the existing termination policy and many considered the payment under that policy to be a retirement benefit. Employee morale was already low because of the terminations to date, and the client did not want to be perceived as unfair or to draw attention to its changes in the termination policy. Since the company planned more terminations in the near future, it wanted to implement the new policy in a timely way in order to limit future payouts.
Our approach: Christin proposed several key policy revision options that addressed the client's business objectives. These included providing a certain number of weeks per year of notice/pay in lieu of notice up to a maximum number of weeks, staggering the effective date of the new policy based on seniority and communicating any change to the policy individually to each employee to ensure its enforceability.
The result: The termination policy amendment allowed the client to revise the wording of its existing policy which would have presented vulnerabilities with enforceability if there were litigation. While a large number of employees were subsequently terminated without cause, very few employees challenged the policy.
A creative, out-of-court resolution to a difficult termination claim
Our client: In 2016, an oilfield products company needed to negotiate a number of settlements with former employees who were terminated without cause.
Where we began: One of the terminated employees was contesting the client's offer, demanding a larger payout. Christin needed to find a creative solution as her client was unwilling to waiver from the amount of its last offer. Despite that fact, the client wanted to make the offer more enticing as there were risks it could cost them even more if the matter went to trial.
Our approach: Christin proposed that the client re-table their last offer and send the cheque for the settlement funds to the opposing counsel on trust conditions. Christin reasoned that cash in hand would entice the difficult former employee.
The result: The offer was quickly accepted and the matter was closed, achieving a great result for Christin's client.