Carrying on Business in Ontario since the 45th President of the USA

We’ve just celebrated the Lunar New Year, which maybe means it’s a good time to reflect on an old curse: “may you live in interesting times.” Oh boy. We’re certainly doing that right now, aren’t we?

The political upheaval in the USA that has been felt world wide. What does that mean for business in Ontario and what legal issues should you be aware of while running a business right now?

Before I dive into the business issues, I note I wrote this Blog prior to the attack on the Mosque in Quebec. Our firm’s condolences go out to everyone impacted by the attack. We are a firm of inclusion, not hatred.

The first business issue that springs to mind is with respect to employment law issues. The Trump Presidency has spawned, in the words of Aziz Ansari, some “lower case kkk” behaviour. Many people believe they no longer need to be respectful of others beliefs, origins and sexual orientation: they are wrong. The Ontario Human Rights Code still applies. Damages will be awarded against employers who discriminate and they will not be small. Employers must continue to ensure their workplaces are free of discrimination.

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, as it deals with workplace harassment, is also still very much in force. If you allow one political view to bully another, there are expensive consequences to the employer. Employers must continue to ensure their workplaces are free of workplace violence and bullying.

The second issue that jumps out at me is the issue of managing your business’ social media. Ensure you have a social media policy. Ensure it is enforced. Ensure the person responsible for posting to your social media feed is clear on what your business wants to contribute to the current online debate, if anything. You want to come out of this like @Lyft, not like @Uber. That is not to say either company is correct, it is to say, you don’t want to drive away business.

Consider having a mandatory “cooling off” period before responding to social media posts: if possible, have more than one person work on crafting responses to ensure they’re consistent with your brand.

These are interesting times. They don’t need to have devastating financial consequences if you take a moment, take a breath and act with purpose, not with “reaction”.

Inga B. Andriessen JD