When his grandmother learned that Stuart Rudner was specializing in Employment Law, she shared a story of when she was a young woman working in an office in Montreal. Times were tough, money was scarce and jobs hard to find. When she told her boss that she would need a few days off to observe the Jewish High Holidays, she was told that if she did not come to work on those days, she should not bother coming back at all.
Despite the fact that her family needed the income from her job, Stuart’s grandmother stood by her convictions and did not work on the High Holidays. Fortunately, she did not lose her job. “Not everyone is as brave or as stubborn as my grandmother. That’s why you may need an Employment Lawyer if you find yourself in a similar situation. I do not want others to suffer that type of discrimination,” Stuart says.
While his grandmother's experience did not lead him to become an Employment Lawyer, he is certainly happy that he has and is able to help both employers and employees to understand and enforce their rights.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “guru” as a “teacher” and “an acknowledged leader.” Based on this definition, I think it is fair to say, that Stuart Rudner is a “guru” of Employment Law. For example, in 2016, 2017 and 2018, Stuart was selected by his peers for inclusion in ‘The Best Lawyers in Canada’ in the area of Employment Law. He is routinely named in Canadian HR Reporter’s Employment Lawyers Directory (a comprehensive directory of the top Employment Law and immigration law practitioners in Canada) and has also been recognized as one of Canada’s top Legal Social Media Influencers.
Stuart’s firm, Rudner Law, has been nominated as one of the Top Employment & Labour Boutiques in Canadian HR Reporter Readers’ Choice Awards for 2018. His previous firm was selected as one of the top three Employment Law firms in 2016 and 2017, the first two years these awards were given out. And, when the Human Resources Professionals Association sought to be part of the ground-breaking case of Keays v. Honda Canada at the Supreme Court of Canada, they turned to him.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is an individual seeking advice about their employment, a family-run business, or a multinational corporation, all clients have goals and issues that have to be managed. There’s nothing I enjoy more than becoming my clients’ Trusted Advisor, educating them, guiding them, and working with them to develop a cost-effective strategy. And, when disputes arise, we are their advocate. Clients appreciate our experience and practical approach and regularly refer their friends, family and associates to us. In fact, the vast majority of our work comes through referrals,” Stuart explains.
Reflecting on one of his favourite success stories, Stuart recalls, “A senior manager, and a close friend to one of my former clients, was devastated when he lost his job of 25+ years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was only offered a pittance for severance. Initially, the senior manager was reluctant to see me because he was concerned about legal fees. When my new client retained me, I ensured that he received the severance he was entitled to. I also encouraged him to consider going into business for himself. While my new client initially dismissed the idea of starting his own business, he eventually pursued it and is now one of my longest-standing corporate clients,” Stuart says.
Clients describe Rudner Law as strategic and pragmatic. Team members don’t just tell clients what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. “Clients are not paying good money for a cheerleader. Being a good lawyer involves two very different components: advice and advocacy. You’re retaining us to advise you, which is when we point out the weaknesses in your case and identify the risks. When it is time to represent you, we advocate zealously on your behalf,” Stuart adds.
His clients agree. One long-time client, Rick Degendorfer says, “In my capacity as a senior HR leader, I have found Stuart’s Employment Law advice to always be strategic. He is both proactive and responsive and is a true partner and advocate for the companies that I have been associated with.”
Rudner Law uses technology to their advantage and runs a virtually paperless office. “Using technology effectively means I can work anywhere, anytime, which is a good thing; a lot of the time, I am a glorified chauffeur and ATM for my two kids, who are involved in competitive hockey and dance. It’s great to have flexibility and a modicum of work/life balance, while still being available if clients need you,” Stuart says. Technology also allows firm members to collaborate easily with clients, no matter where they are located.
Stuart is ably supported by a passionate and experienced team. Brittany Taylor and Nadia Zaman (Associates), Anique Dublin (Law & Billing Clerk), Mary Kadric (Executive Legal Assistant), and Janis Buckley (Legal Assistant/Office Administrator) work with Stuart to help employers and employees understand their legal rights and obligations and provide the strategic advice needed to pursue their goals.
Rudner Law provides senior counsel in all aspects of the Employment relationship, including:
● employment contacts,
● policies and procedures,
● human rights issues,
● reducing labour costs,
● restrictive covenants, and
● discipline and dismissal.
Proactive vs. Reactive
Individuals who choose not to have severance packages reviewed often leave tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table at a time when their family needs it most. “If you’ve lost your job and have been offered a settlement, it is important to remember that the employer is not trying to protect your interests or will be fair. Also, many contracts of employment are extremely restrictive, and, may include provisions for extremely low severance. Many times, I can help negotiate a better deal or at least point out the potential risks of signing the job offer as currently written,” Stuart explains.
Employers are no different. They often try to avoid legal fees by doing things themselves or finding information or templates online. In many cases, Stuart and his team are brought in to clean up the mess. “The HR Checkup that we provide is like insurance – there is an upfront cost, but it will save you money in the long run. And, it will improve your legal position. Strategic HR is critical in today’s economy,” Stuart adds.
Rudner Law loves to begin a relationship with an HR Checkup. This strategic approach to HR often involves visiting the workplace and getting to know clients’ businesses. This pays dividends in the long run. “When an issue comes up, our clients don't have to waste time explaining who they are and what they do - we already know,” says Stuart.
Belief in Education
Stuart is the founding Director of Osgoode Professional Development’s HR Law for HR Professionals certificate course (now in its eleventh year) and is the co-founding Director of the Advanced HR Law for HR Professionals certificate course. He also speaks at countless conferences each year and is actively involved with three separate blogs. In addition, Stuart’s book, “You’re Fired! Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada,” has received critical acclaim since its release in 2011. He has also contributed to four other books.
As well, Rudner Law runs a monthly online Q&A show, “Fire Away!” where Stuart and his guests answer viewer questions and discuss timely Employment Law issues. The firm also has a monthly newsletter, a Twitter feed, FaceBook and LinkedIn pages, as well as a YouTube channel; all of which provide a substantial amount of valuable information, at no cost. When Stuart discovered there was no LinkedIn Group dedicated to Employment Law in Canada, he started the Canadian HR Law Group, which now has over 15,000 members. His use of social media, including his following on Twitter (@RudnerLaw) prompted Klout, a website providing social media analytics to measure user influence, to recognize Stuart as a “specialist.”
Rudner Law also provides in-house training for clients, groups and associations.
Stuart as Mediator - Helping Parties Resolve Disputes
Several years ago, Stuart added Mediation to his Employment Law toolkit. After being asked by two colleagues to mediate a dispute, and despite his lack of formal mediation training, Stuart helped them reach a settlement. He was hooked! He enrolled in courses to hone his skills, and began mediating more regularly
“Litigation is expensive, risky and stressful. Sometimes, only a neutral party can help the parties resolve their differences. Since I’m not advocating for one side or the other I can approach the mediation without bias and work to help the parties resolve their dispute. As I tell clients and parties at mediation, the only reason to settle is if it beats the alternative - litigation. My goal is to help them find a resolution that beats the alternative. I find this challenge stimulating and refreshing,” Stuart says.
Stuart and his wife Nathalie, a high school teacher, have been married for almost 20 years. The couple has two children, Michelle (15), and Samuel (12). Three guinea pigs, including 9 ½ year old “Peanut,” round out the Rudner family.
Stuart and his family volunteer and actively support a number of charities including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which has a special significance, and 360Kids, which helps at-risk youth in York Region. Last year, Stuart’s family and the Rudner Law team joined forces to prepare and serve a holiday dinner to some 360 Kids. “Everyone felt so good about doing this, and we will all definitely continue to help however we can,” Stuart concludes.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category
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