In Focus: Employment lawyer Kathleen Chevalier is advising businesses on workplace issues during the pandemic

June 23, 2020

As a Stikeman Elliott partner who specializes in employment and labour law, Kathleen Chevalier’s expertise has been uniquely sought after in recent months to provide practical solutions to current business realities. Much of her time is now dedicated to helping employers navigate COVID-19 related issues, such as temporary layoffs, recalls, policy generation, employee communications, workplace safety and a shifting of overall business priorities to adjust to a new normal.

During the pandemic, national media outlets have turned to Kathleen to provide commentary on the evolving legal issues that are impacting employers across the country. Most recently, she appeared on BNN Bloomberg to discuss Ontario's temporary layoff amendment. She noted that “it does take some protections away from employees and grants some flexibility to employers, but also brings certainty to both parties, which is a benefit to both employees and employers.”

She added that, “It’s going to be a new world, and there will new law coming out of this situation.” Kathleen dives deeper on the topic in a Knowledge Hub article, “Significant Changes to Ontario’s ESA: Leaves, Layoffs, and Constructive Dismissal during COVID-19.”

In the early stages of the pandemic, Kathleen commented on employee performance expectations in an article from The Globe and Mail, “More companies asking employees to work from home to slow spread of coronavirus”, noting that “companies are setting out productivity expectations and providing guidelines on items such as handling confidential information while off-site.”

And as the situation developed, Kathleen was interviewed again by The Globe and Mail for “Employment lawyers warn companies about legal risks in temporary layoffs,” where she first spoke on the topic of temporary layoffs, and commented that “the outcome of claims are going to look very different than pre-pandemic.” She added, “employers are having to make calculated risk assessments constantly.”

One of the main concerns she was fielding from corporate clients across all industries, Kathleen noted in a BNN Bloomberg article, “New reality: How employers can prepare for the future of work”, was employee resistance or refusal to come back to work. Kathleen’s notes on companies transitioning out of the pandemic shutdown were also featured in Benefits Canada’s “Legal considerations for employers as pandemic drags on.” In the article, she commented on the challenges for businesses in finding the best way to function safely and effectively.

As an accomplished partner practising in Stikeman Elliott’s Employment & Labour Group, Kathleen uses her deep knowledge and experience to help clients make workplace decisions that are strategic and informed. She delivers the highest quality counsel when she advises clients on their specific concerns on all aspects of the employment relationship, in both unionized and non-unionized environments, and provides practical advice in respect of the employment impact of commercial transactions.

It’s easy to imagine why Kathleen Chevalier was recently recognized as an “Up and Coming” lawyer in Employment & Labour by Chambers Canada 2020. As per Chambers, clients have "nothing but praise" for Kathleen, with one interviewee noting: "She works very much in line with our values and ways of doing business." Chambers notes that she has notable expertise in the retail industry, servicing household names in the consumer products and luxury goods sectors.

In her service of clients over the years, Kathleen has gained extensive experience in the courts, namely litigation matters arising out of the employment relationship including wrongful dismissal litigation, grievance arbitration and matters before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. In addition, she is in-demand as a speaker at legal industry and women-focused events, covering topics such as cannabis in the workplace, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Employment Standards Act, and managing disabilities in the workplace, to name a few.

For more information on Kathleen’s expertise and experience, view her bio here.