Canadian Lawyer

February 2021

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Page 12 of 35 11 Justice Ernest Drapeau on behalf of a three- member appeal court panel that heard the matter. "And If the dismissal [in this case] was made on a with-cause basis, it was not effected in writing and is therefore legally invalid." The ruling resulted in the employee receiving more than $300,000, equivalent to 24 months' salary and other compensation. Commenting on the ruling, Stewart McKelvey lawyers Chad Sullivan and Kathleen Nash said in a blog post that "ambiguous employment agreements may fail to rebut the presumption of common law reasonable notice and entitle employees to increased damages." They said the decision "must be added to the growing number of cases that employers must consider when drafting employment contracts which purport to restrict the amount of notice required on termination." Abrams began working for Rentown Enterprises Inc. in 1987 as a driver, moving up to store manager and then regional manager for the Atlantic provinces. In May 2017, after learning that Abrams had engaged in a romantic relationship with a subordinate, RTO fired Abrams. At the termination meeting, Abrams was told he was being dismissed without cause. Stuart Rudner, author of You're Fired! Just Cause for Dismissal in Canada, says that "many employers make the mistake of taking the position that they have just cause for dismissal but wait for a convenient time before executing. "Failing to clearly say a dismissal is for cause and failing to execute the dismissal properly will undermine the employer's posi- tion. Both their actions and their words must be consistent with summary dismissal." Dalhousie's first director of African Nova Scotian engagement looks to inspire Q&A Jalana Lewis Dalhousie University Jalana Lewis (JD, '13) was named Dalhousie University's first director of African Nova Scotian community engagement in the summer of 2020. We talk to her about her own experiences and her what she hopes to accomplish in the new role. What made you decide to go to study law at Dalhousie? After graduating from high school, I wasn't quite sure if Dalhousie was the university for me, so it was not on my list of schools that I applied to. But after I was actively recruited several years later by the university through its Indigenous, Blacks and Mi'kmaq Initiative, I joined the Schulich School of Law in 2010. Describe your own experiences as a law student? My experience as a student at Dal was very specific, related to what I needed to do day to day, like many law school students. But I did know that I didn't get a chance to be taught by professors who looked like me. I didn't see staff — especially those in management positions — who looked like me and not many students who looked like me. But it was still a very positive experience, and I was valedictorian for my graduating class. What made you interested in the job of director of African Nova Scotian community engagement? I was intrigued by the opportunity, and I knew many of the people involved in this initiative and immediately felt that this was more than a 'check-the-boxes' exercises. I felt there was a real commitment at Dal to working on ways to make African Nova Scotians feel more welcome. What do you hope to accomplish in your role as Dalhousie's first director of African Nova Scotian community engagement? I hope to reach out to the African Nova Scotian community to have them become part of the university, either as student, staff or faculty, and build stronger relationships between the university alumni and the larger Black Nova Scotian community. That's really important to me, and I hope that, during my time here, I can make a difference. I'm really curious to learn more about what happens when someone from my community applies for a job, how that looks like and what can be improved. This position is for a three-year term. What do you hope to see at the end of that period? I want to build on the foundations that were laid down before me and breathe new life into the strategy. And I like the idea that I can focus those three years on piloting, collaborating, testing things out and, at the end of that, we can figure out how to make the strategy tighter, how to make the role of the director of African Nova Scotian Community Engagement even better. Fast facts: »Graduated from Schulich School of law in 2013; was valedictorian for her class »Worked in human rights law as a non-practising lawyer with various NGOs, universities and governments »In 2016, managed the municipal campaign of Lindell Smith, Halifax's first African Nova Scotian city councillor in 18 years »Worked with the African Nova Scotian Youth Employment Lab, focused on high unemployment rates among young Black people »Lead researcher for Dalhousie University's Report on Lord Dalhousie's History on Slavery and Race "Failing to clearly say a dismissal is for cause and failing to execute the dismissal properly will undermine the employer's position." Stuart Rudner, Rudner Law

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