It’s an unfortunate reality, that, despite Canada’s many positive features, the country’s LGBTQ+ community has long had to struggle for equal rights in society and the workplace — for equal pay and benefits, marriage rights, and access to healthcare. 

Yet, often hidden under the radar, are the people and organizations behind the scenes who have made it their life’s work to fight passionately for equal rights in all spheres of society.

Susan Ursel, a 2019 recipient of the Law Society of Ontario Medal, has worked for over three decades as a lawyer acting on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of her most memorable cases include the Hamilton Gay Pride Day case and the precedent-setting Charter case, Egan and Nesbit — the first Supreme Court case addressing the equal rights of gay men and lesbians. Recently, Ursel has worked on numerous cases for members of the transsexual/transgender communities, such as Hogan, which dealt with the availability of public health care for the trans community.

A natural fit

In 1999, Ursel joined the Toronto labour and employment law firm now named Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP (UPFH) because she believed that LGBTQ+ rights and labour rights are naturally aligned. “The labour law community has always worked on human rights because one of the basic human rights is to not be discriminated against in employment. So, it’s a natural connection,” explains Ursel. “Our right under the Human Rights Code is not to be discriminated against in employment, so here at the firm we don’t just do work for the LGBTQ+ community, but also for people in inequitable employment situations, religious minorities, racialized people, First Nations people, and more.”

As one of the country’s leading law firms, UPFH specializes in labour and employment law. It provides advice and representation to unions, professional associations and individual employees regarding all aspects of employment, including labour relations, human rights, pension and employment benefits, health and safety, Charter of Rights and public interest advocacy, and more. UPFH is highly regarded as a respected, well-established firm that combines rigorous legal acumen with a modern outlook. The firm hosts a diverse and talented team of people who always strive to do exemplary work for their clients in a cost-effective way.

It’s essential for all Canadians, whether or not they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community, to know they can have access to legal experts who will fight tirelessly to ensure that all Canadians are treated fairly at work and beyond.

Consult with UPFH LLP when you have an employment problem — a little advice upfront can save a lot of headaches and money down the road. To learn more, call 416.968.3333 or visit their website.

A Selection of UPFH’s Professionals:

Katie
Katie
Practice focuses on the representation of trade unions, associations, and employees in a wide range of labour law, human rights, and administrative law matters.
Andrea
Andrea
Focuses on employment law, professional discipline and litigation for individual employees, unions, associations, and employers. Emphasis on wrongful dismissal, human rights issues, professional discipline, and employment contracts.
Saman
Saman
Exclusively practices in criminal and regulatory law. He is highly experienced in litigating complex criminal and regulatory matters at both the trial and appellate levels.
Saneliso
Saneliso
Represents employees before administrative tribunals and private arbitrators in all areas of human rights, including on matters relating to disability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, sex, race, and family status.
Josh
Josh
Managing partner with over 25 years of experience. Practice encompasses all aspects of labour and employment law including emphasis on matters before professional discipline tribunals.