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Christopher Burkett is an experienced trial advocate, having appeared before a variety of administrative tribunals, at all levels of trial court, and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. Mr. Burkett's broad litigation and advocacy practice specifically focuses in the areas of labour and employment law, administrative and public law, professional discipline, corporate anti-bribery compliance, and criminal matters. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie in 2011, Mr. Burkett was an Assistant Crown Attorney, where he was the lead prosecutor on numerous criminal trials; including serious commercial fraud prosecutions. Mr. Burkett's experience extends to matters involving internal investigations, administrative tribunals, judicial review applications, injunctions, trials, and appeals.

Companies worldwide face rising pressure to comply with international labour and human rights standards both within their operations and in their supply chains. In addition to the harmful impact on workers, failing to address labour and human rights risks can result in serious brand damage and legal risk, with consequent financial implications for the business.

In recent years, Canadian courts have increasingly heard large civil claims against Canadian companies for alleged human rights violations in their foreign operations. As we have discussed previously, judges faced with these claims must determine whether the court’s jurisdictional reach extends to the company’s activities in its global supply chain, thus permitting foreign claimants to pursue their action in Canada.
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In its first decision of 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned the lower court’s decision in Heller v. Uber Technologies Inc., 2019 ONCA 1. The Court of Appeal held that an arbitration clause requiring arbitration in the Netherlands of disputes between drivers and Uber to be invalid and unenforceable. Based on the presumption that Uber drivers are employees of Uber, the Court of Appeal found that the arbitration clause was a prohibited contracting out of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
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With the newly elected PC majority government, change is the one certainty that Ontario employers can expect. The specifics of what the change will look like have not been spelled out since the PC five-point platform did not touch on areas that directly impact employers. We can nonetheless anticipate that this government will consider initiatives to improve the competitiveness of Ontario businesses, such as the following:
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Recent polling suggests that the June 7th Ontario election is a hotly contested race with the NDP currently holding a lead in the polls and the PCs in second place. We are closely monitoring the election developments to keep you informed as to what a new government will mean for Ontario employers.

Below we outline the NDP’s proposed reforms to employment and labour laws. If pursued, the NDP’s proposed initiatives set out in their platform will significantly impact employers and go well beyond the changes recently introduced by the Ontario government under Bill 148.
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Baker McKenzie is partnering with The Globe and Mail for the Solving Workplace Challenges 2018 conference, a dynamic, half-day learning event. Three panels of experts will provide recommendations and practical strategies for some of the most pressing issues facing employers today, including mental health, marijuana in the workplace and building employee resiliency.

Chris Burkett will

The date set for the legalization of marijuana in Canada is now just over 7 months away. With legalization looming and the holiday season upon us, it is now more important than ever for employers to take proactive steps to respond to the changing legal and social landscape.
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We have written over the past two years about a growing wave of significant lawsuits in Canada against corporations for alleged international labour and human rights violations in their overseas operations or supply chains. As we have reported, Canada’s judiciary is demonstrating a willingness to expand their jurisdictional reach to permit such claims to proceed. Canadian judges are keeping an open mind as to whether a novel duty of care exists between multinational companies and the upstream foreign supply chain workers or the local residents affected by their operations.
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