The law firm of a lawyer who assisted a hospital in
"evaluating, mediating and resolving workplace conflicts
between employees including allegations of harassment and workplace
violence" has been ordered removed as lawyers of record for an
employee who was suing the hospital.
The lawyer/mediator had met with various hospital employees
including staff members, the hospital's "Safe Workplace
Advocate", the CEO and various other senior hospital
A few months later, a hospital employee started a lawsuit
against the hospital and several representatives of the hospital,
in respect of the termination of her employment. The lawsuit
apparently touched on some matters that the lawyer had dealt with
in her role "evaluating, mediating and resolving" the
workplace conflicts. The lawyer/mediator was not involved in
representing the employee. She eventually left the firm. The court
found that the lawyer/mediator had at all times acted with
integrity and professionalism.
The court noted that while the evaluation, mediation and
resolution work of the lawyer/mediator had not perhaps been
"the traditional work of a lawyer", the firm was still in
conflict. The court was concerned with distinguishing between a law
firm's obligations to "different categories of existing
clients" based on the type of work done by the law firm. The
lawyer/mediator had received confidential information from
employees and management of the hospital, which the law firm could
use against the hospital in representing the employee. The court
also noted that there was a "real risk in a highly publicized
wrongful dismissal action, like this one" that names a
hospital executive with whom the lawyer/mediator worked closely,
that the law firm's representation of both the hospital (by the
lawyer/mediator) and the employee (by another lawyer in the firm)
would be compromised.
Interestingly, the court put the law firm on notice that the
court was considering ordering costs against the firm, and invited
the law firm's submissions on that point.
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