Articles by our Lawyers

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About Long Term Disability Claims

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Toronto Disability lawyer gives an overview of Long Term Disability Insurance Policies

Online Harrasment

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Toronto internet lawyer, Gil Zvulony was recently interviewed by City News about the laws dealing with online harassment and cyber bullying.

Top Ten Tips for Internet Defamation Victims

This article explores ten essential tips for dealing with defamation on the internet. It provides some simple and practical advice to people who have been libeled on the internet, including how to determine the severity of the defamation, whether the posting is defamatory, and whether it is worth suing over.

Predators on Dating Sites

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Gil Zvulony spoke to CityNews about the problem of predators and pedophiles using dating websites to lure children. Gil cautioned that many dating websites do not verify the identity of their users. He also, highlighted that the law, as it currently stands, does not require dating sites to actively pre-screen their users.

Privacy and Health Records

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Toronto privacy lawyer, Gil Zvulony appeared on CHCH’s Square Off to discuss the problem of unlawful disclosure of health records and privacy breaches in hospitals.

Can you opt out of Facebook’s Terms of Use?

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Toronto Privacy lawyer, Gil Zvulony spoke to Dan Misener of CBC Radio regarding a Facebook status update that has gone viral (radio segment embedded below). The update purports to prevent Facebook from using the user’s intellectual property and private information. These types of updates have been going around for some time.  The latest looks like this:

Due to the fact that Facebook has chosen to involve software that will allow the theft of my personal information, I stated: at this date [insert date] in response to the new guidelines of Facebook, pursuant to articles L.111, 112 and 113 of the code of intellectual property, I declare that my rights are attached to all my personal data drawings, paintings, photos, texts etc…. published on my profile and my page. For commercial use of the foregoing my written consent is required at all times.
Those who read this text can do a copy/paste on their Facebook wall. This will allow them to place themselves under the protection of copyright.
By this statement, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and or its content. The actions mentioned above also apply to employees, students, agents and or other personnel under the direction of Facebook.
The content of my profile contains private information. The violation of my privacy is punished by the law (UCC 1-308 1-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).
Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are invited to publish a notice of this kind, or if they prefer, can copy and paste this version.
If you have not published this statement at least once, you tacitly allow the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in the profile update.

Do these Status Updates have any Legal Effect?

Do these status updates help protect your information?  Do they have any legal effect? The short answer is no.  The reason is that a person cannot unilaterally change the terms of a contract.  A contract, by definition, requires the agreement of the parties.

When people first sign up to Facebook they are asked to agree to a contract or as Facebook calls it: “Terms“.  This type of contract, like most contracts people enter today, is called a “standard form contract“.  This means that the terms are standard to all who wish to sign up.  The terms are not negotiable.  It’s a “take it or leave it” option.  Facebook’s contract contains many terms regarding how Facebook uses your information and intellectual property.  It also contains terms on how the contract between the user and Facebook may be changed.

But Facebook Changes Their Contracts Unilaterally?

From time to time, Facebook changes its Terms. How can Facebook change it’s terms unilaterally, when a user cannot?  Because the User agreed to this amending formula at the time of signing up. In this sense, Facebook’s amendments are not unilateral.  The Facebook Terms state that in most cases they will give a user notice that the Terms will change and that  “Your continued use of Facebook following changes to our terms constitutes your acceptance of our amended terms.”  In other words, by using Facebook, you agree to allow them to change their Terms.

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property From Facebook?

Users who are concerned about how Facebook uses their data, should take some time to learn about Facebook’s policies.  Facebook has become more transparent in this regard.  Learning about Facebook’s policies may alleviate some concerns.

Ultimately, Facebook is a business.  And just like any business who makes you an offer, you can take it or leave it.  If you are unhappy with Facebook’s Terms, a better option than pasting legally meaningless jargon is to cancel your Facebook account.

Privacy Breaches Are Usually Not Worth Much Money

Toronto Privacy Lawyer Gil Zvulony recently spoke to Canadian Lawyer Magazine regarding the recent decision in McIntosh v. Legal Aid Ontario.  In that case the court awarded the plaintiff $7500 in damages for the tort of intrusion upon seclusion.

Gil Zvulony believes that the result is typical in that relatively minor privacy breaches will not result in a windfall damages award.  Most minor privacy breaches will fall in the realm of small claims court jurisdiction.  At the time of writing, all monetary claims under $25,000 must be brought in the Small Claims Court.  There can be negative consequences if a plaintiff recovers an amount within the monetary jurisdiction of the Small Claims Court.  In such a case, the court may order that the plaintiff shall not recover any costs.  Such an outcome can result in a plaintiff paying more in legal fees than in what is actually recovered by way of judgment.   The lesson here is to have a hard look at the amount of damages in privacy breaches before commencing an action.

The article in Canadian Lawyer Magazine can be found here: Legal aid employee to pay $7,500 for intrusion upon seclusion

Why Employers need an Employment Agreement

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By Toronto Employment Lawyer, Karen Zvulony

One of the best, and most cost-effective ways an employer can protect itself from paying costly severance and termination packages is by having a properly drafted and executed written employment agreement with its Employees that limits and outlines how much severance will be payable upon termination. As simple as it sounds, ensuring that enforceable employment agreements are in place is key to limiting an employer’s liability.

Basic Requirements For an Employment Agreement

From the employers perspective, it is crucial that any employment agreement must comply with the minimum standards set forth in the Ontario Employment Standards Act.  Moreover, like all valid contracts, an employment agreement must use clear and concise language.  The agreement should be agreed to before the employee starts working to ensure that there is valid consideration for the employee signing the agreement. A change in position or promotion may necessitate a new agreement being signed.

In addition to limiting the amount of severance payable on termination, employment agreements may also address other issues such as:

  • changes in responsibilities or reporting structure,
  • when (and if) an employer can reduce an employee’s salary
  • whether an employee can be relocated;
  • and any post-employment obligations (such as non-solicitation and non competition).

An employment agreement can also ensure that are no misunderstandings with the employee regarding the terms and conditions of the employment and that no misrepresentations were made to the employee prior to the acceptance of the employment that they employee relied on or that they can claim to have relied on later on.

On the practical side, clearly outlining the expectations of the employment relationship at the very beginning will likely save headaches down the line. No one likes to be caught by surprise.

Don’t Leave Your Business Vulnerable

In my experience of assisting employees, I have come across many poorly drafted employment agreements that have been used against the employer.  It never ceases to amaze me, how many employers neglect to properly protect themselves.

Gil Zvulony’s Expert Opinion Cited by Federal Justice Minister

The federal government has introduced Bill C-13 ostensibly as an effort to address the problem of cyber-bullying.  In November 2013, Toronto Internet Lawyer Gil Zvulony gave his views on the proposed legislation to the CBC.

Recently, in a letter to the editor touting the benefits of Bill C-13, Justice Minister, Peter Mackay, cited Gil Zvulony’s opinion opinion about the Bill.  He referred to Gil Zvulony’s interview with the CBC where Mr. Zvulony stated that “…there is a logical theme to all of this, in the sense that it’s trying to modernize [the code] for the digital age”.

 

 

Bad Reviews and Defamation Law in Canada

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Toronto Internet and Defamation Lawyer, Gil Zvulony sat down with CBC’s Carol MacNeil to discuss the legal issues surrounding negative online reviews on websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.  Mr. Zvulony discussed how the law of defamation can apply to online reviews. He gave some practical tips to keep in mind before authoring a negative online review about a company, such as having someone proof-read your post, and limiting your critique to facts you can easily prove. The entire clip can be viewed below.