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Queen’s Law co-develops online legal tool for unemployed workers, employers

Tuesday, May 19, 2020 @ 2:18 PM | By John Schofield


The Queen’s University Faculty of Law and the Smith School of Business at Queen’s have launched a free, online legal tool that could help some of the millions of Canadians who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dubbed MyOpenCourt (myopencourt.org), the website uses artificial intelligence (AI), data-science technology and simple questionnaires to help workers decide if they are an employee or a contractor and how much severance pay they are entitled to.

The online tool can help workers decide if they have a possible legal case against an employer and is based on data from thousands of Canadian employment law cases. The reasonable notice calculator, however, is not currently applicable for Quebec-based users.

The MyOpenCourt project was developed by students and researchers in the Faculty of Law’s Conflict Analytics Lab, Smith’s Master of Management in Artificial Intelligence program, the Queen’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, and partners at McGill University and institutions in the United States and Europe. Led by Queen’s law and business professor Samuel Dahan, the Conflict Analytics Lab works on projects that improve access to justice by using AI to help resolve conflicts in a transparent, consistent and innovative manner.

“Most Canadian workers cannot afford an employment lawyer or live in areas with few skilled employment law experts,” Dahan said in a news release. “Since COVID-19’s arrival in Canada, we have seen nearly two million jobs lost with terminations and layoffs across many different sectors, and we decided to launch our tools to help Canadians who have lost work.”

MyOpenCourt could be useful for both workers and employers, added Dahan.

“Navigating employer-contractor relationships is challenging, and severance is difficult to calculate,” he noted in the release. “We hope to provide both workers and employers with ways to avoid pitfalls and find equitable solutions to the challenges created by the pandemic.”