George Avraam

George Avraam

Partner
Baker & McKenzie LLP

Biography

Managing Partner of the Toronto office and former Chair of the North American Employment & Compensation group, George practices trial and appellate litigation.

Practice Focus

George is recognized as one of Canada's leading labour, employment, human rights, and administrative and public law litigators. George is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, is ranked in Benchmark Litigation, Chambers, Legal 500, Lexpert, Who's Who Legal (Canada and Global), and Best Lawyers in Canada.

He has been lead counsel in major cases, including trials, arbitrations, administrative proceedings, appeals, judicial reviews, and class actions.

George's appellate and judicial review practice has involved noteworthy and precedent setting cases, including:

  • defending a leading Ontario university in the Divisional Court over its mandatory vaccine policy (Michalski).
  • whether an employer must provide an employee consideration for a termination clause in an asset transaction (Olympus, leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada denied).
  • the scope and purpose of punitive damages (Pate).
  • the jurisdiction of the court to entertain a wrongful dismissal after a union has been certified but before a collective agreement has been finalized (Cintas).
  • the enforceability of termination clauses in employment contracts (Holland and Andros).
  • the authority and powers of a university administrative tribunal (Bart).
  • the jurisdiction of a labour board over a foreign entity (Wal-Mart Stores Inc).
  • the lawfulness of a store closure during a union certification drive Wal-Mart (Jonquiere, SCC).
  • moral damages flowing from an employment relationship (Honda v. Keays (SCC).

George's trial practice involves representing clients in complex litigation matters, including partnership disputes at professional service firms, fraud, labour and employment, human rights, and administrative and public law matters. He has successfully defended matters where clients' reputational interests were significantly at risk. George has also been lead counsel in important employment-related class actions, all of which were resolved favourably for the companies.

Representative Legal Matters

  • Lead counsel to McMaster University in Michalski et al. v. McMaster University, 2022 ONSC 2625 (Can LII), in which the Court dismissed a challenge to the University's mandatory vaccination policy.
  • Lead counsel in two different class actions involving security companies in off-the-clock employment class actions.
  • Lead counsel to a retailer in an off-the-clock employment class action, which the Court dismissed.
  • Lead counsel in Andros v. Colliers Macaulay Nicolls Inc. 2019 ONCA 679, which addressed the enforceability of termination clauses.
  • Lead counsel in Krishnamoorthy v. Olympus Canada Inc. 2017 ONCA 873, in which the Ontario Court of Appeal found that fresh consideration was not required for a termination clause secured as part of an offer of employment in an asset transaction. The Supreme Court denied leave to appeal.
  • Lead counsel in Bart v. McMaster University 2016 ONSC 5747 (Can LII), in which he successfully represented McMaster University in one of the most significant judicial reviews involving internal university administrative tribunals.
  • Lead counsel in Holland v. Hostopia.com, 2015 ONCA 762 in which he successfully upheld the trial court's findings that the Plaintiff was not entitled to commissions arising out of a transaction.
  • Lead counsel in Pate Estate v. The Corporation of the Township of Galway-Cavendish and Harvey (2013), 117 O.R. (3d) 481 on the scope and purpose of punitive damage awards.
  • Lead counsel for the intervener, the Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada, at the Supreme Court of Canada in Plourde v. Wal-Mart Canada Corporation, 2009 SCC 54 and Desbiens et al. v. Wal-Mart Canada Corporation, 2009 SCC 55.
  • Lead counsel for the intervener, the Alliance of Manufacturers & Exporters Canada, at the Supreme Court of Canada in Honda Canada Inc. operating as Honda of Canada Mfg. v. Kevin Keays: 2008 SCC 39.
  • Lead counsel for Sony of Canada Ltd., 2015 ONSC 5859, in Riskie v. Sony of Canada Ltd., in which he secured a complete dismissal of all claims in a motion for summary judgment.
  • Lead litigation counsel for Wal-Mart Canada Corp. in a successful defence of a certification application and an unfair labour practice before the Ontario Labour Relations Board in UFCW Canada v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp., 2011 CanLII 44470 (ON LRB).

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • The Advocates' Society
  • Canadian Association of University Solicitors
  • Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers

Admissions

  • Ontario~Canada (1999)

Education

  • Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.M. Administrative Law) (2002)
  • Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.B.) (1997)
  • York University (B.A.) (1993)

Languages

  • English
  • Greek