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Employment & Labour, Human Rights

Simes finds satisfaction in helping wronged employees understand rights

For Toronto employment and human rights lawyer Nicole Simes, it’s all about the moment she sees her clients understand their rights.

Whether it’s an employee who is concerned about their employer’s conduct or someone who was terminated and doesn’t know if they received a fair package, Simes says she gets a lot of satisfaction out of knowing she helped someone appreciate what they are entitled to.

“The law is constantly changing and often complicated, and it can be difficult to get a grasp on what an employer is and is not allowed to do,” says Simes, of MacLeod Law Firm. “Unfortunately, there are many employers who either don’t know their own obligations or take advantage of vulnerable employees. So it’s important for people have more information and a better understanding of their rights.”

Born in New Zealand and raised in British Columbia, Simes first pursued a career in international human rights after studying law at the University of Toronto. She worked for the United Nations and for a non-profit organization in Mexico City before her path started to shift. “I decided being a lawyer at home can potentially offer more help to individuals than the large international institutions,” Simes tells

So, Simes completed her articles as a judicial law clerk for the Federal Court of Canada and was called to the bar in Ontario in 2011.

Simes, who holds an undergraduate degree in political science and history from the University of Victoria, focuses exclusively on employment law and human rights cases.

She is interested in being at the forefront of changing law. For example, she describes an area of her practice advising transgendered people with regard to human rights laws after the Ontario Human Rights Code was amended in 2012 to include gender identity and expression as protected grounds.

“There are not a lot of trans-positive human rights practices in Toronto, so I have developed a large client base in that area,” she says. “This community often still faces blatant discrimination. There is much education still needed for companies and individuals and the area of law is still emerging.”

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