When it comes to dealing with complex legal problems, Emma Phillips is one of the best. Clients and colleagues turn to her when they are looking for answers that are not only sophisticated and thorough, but also explained in plain language that is accessible to all. From complicated tenure grievances to every day labour arbitration cases, from Charter litigation to collective agreement negotiations, Emma has a way of taking problems, breaking them down and making the answers seem simple.
A significant part of Emma’s work is for university faculty associations and their members. She fights to ensure that the rights of faculty members and librarians are protected, and that Ontario continues to enjoy high quality public post-secondary education.
In addition to regularly litigating human rights and accommodation issues, Emma has also been at the forefront of assessing the systemic roots of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination in some of Canada’s most important organizations. She acted as counsel to the External Review on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Armed Forces, and to an independent review commissioned by the UN on sexual abuse by peacekeepers. This year, she acted as counsel to an external review of harassment in the RCMP. Emma comments regularly on these issues through op-eds and in the media, helping to keep these organizations accountable to the public.
Emma also works and speaks regularly in the areas of privacy in the workplace and the application of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. She understands and navigates for clients the often difficult balance between right to privacy in the workplace and access to information. One of Emma’s recent papers explores the growing importance of “informational privacy”, as well as the clear affirmation by Canada’s highest courts that employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace.
Emma joined the firm in 2006, after clerking for Justice Marie Deschamps at the Supreme Court of Canada. She received her law degree from the University of Toronto in 2005, where she also completed a Master’s degree in Criminology, writing her thesis on the transformation of the labour market in contemporary Cuba. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree (summa cum laude) in Anthropology from Harvard University.
Emma currently serves as co-chair of The Advocate Society’s Labour and Employment Practice Group, and on the executive of the International Labour Rights Committee of the Canadian Association of Labour Lawyers.
- CUPE, Local 1750 v. WSIB
- Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario – PO 3304
- York University Faculty Association v. York University