Home|Audio Conferences|Accommodating Poorly Understood Medical Conditions

Accommodating Poorly Understood Medical Conditions: A guide for employers and unions

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EST

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Carissa Tanzola

Employer Counsel
Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti
David Yazbeck

Union Counsel
Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck


Jess Hadley

Union Counsel
McGown Cook
Seann McAleese

Employer Counsel
Miller Thomson


Although they are relatively common, medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and environmental sensitivities present difficulties for workplace parties in the accommodation process. Employers and unions are often unfamiliar with these conditions, resulting in a lack of support for affected employees, who frequently face skepticism regarding the severity and even the existence of their symptoms. In this session, experts will review effective strategies and best practices for accommodating employees with poorly understood medical conditions. Topics to be discussed include the following:

  • What types of medical conditions might be considered to be poorly understood? What is the prevalence of these conditions among Canadian workers? Are these conditions characterized as disabilities under human rights legislation? What aspects of these conditions might render them more difficult to address within the existing framework of accommodation?
  • What obstacles commonly faced by employees with poorly understood medical conditions differ from those faced by employees with conditions or disabilities that are more widely known and documented? How do stereotypes and stigma associated with poorly understood medical conditions contribute to the challenge of providing accommodation?
  • When must employees disclose a medical condition to their employer? Why might an employee struggle with disclosure? Are potential employers legally permitted to ask job applicants if they have a medical condition that may affect work performance?
  • What medical information is an employer legally permitted to request to facilitate accommodation? Is an employer entitled to more information when an employee has a medical condition that is poorly understood? Can an employer periodically require updated medical information? How should employers and unions balance the need for medical information against the privacy rights of employees?
  • Is an employer obliged to accommodate employees with medical conditions that cannot be easily documented or objectively proved, such as chronic pain disorders? Is a definitive diagnosis from a medical professional necessary to support an accommodation request?
  • What types of accommodations might be appropriate for employees with poorly understood medical conditions? What are examples of unique accommodations that have been implemented in complex cases? When should an employee take sick leave or disability leave instead of continuing to work with accommodations?
  • What are the limits of an employer's duty to accommodate? When will an employer be able to establish that it has accommodated an employee to the point of undue hardship? At what point will an employee's repeated medical absences justify dismissal?
  • What is the union's role in the accommodation process? When members are on long-term leaves from the workplace, do unions breach their duty of fair representation if they do not maintain adequate communication with members regarding their fitness to work, possible accommodations, and return to work?


CPHR Alberta

CPD hours for this event can be logged online, through your CPHR Alberta member profile.

HRPA Continuing Professional Development

This program has been approved for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours under Section A3 of the Recertification Log of the Human Resources Professionals Association.

HRMA Continuing Professional Development

This audio conference has been approved by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon (CPHR BC & YK) for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours. Be sure to note the Event Identification Number in your CPHR Recertification Log.

Lancaster House CPD
  • This audio conference has been approved by the Law Society of British Columbia for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Members of the Law Society of Saskatchewan should contact their Law Society regarding CPD approval.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Ontario: 1.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism Hours.
  • This audio conference has been approved by the Law Society of New Brunswick for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • Members of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society may count this program for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Live Session – $260, plus HST
Live Session for 2 or more (Boardroom fee) – $520, plus HST
Bundle Rate – Purchase a Live Session and receive the companion MP3 Recording for $160, plus HST
MP3 Recording – $260, plus HST
(Registrations must be paid in advance of the audio conference)
Contact us for discount pricing on the entire series.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $260. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $160.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

When you register, you'll be given a toll-free number to dial at the time of the session and an access code to join the call. For additional program and registration information, call Lancaster House at (416) 977-6618.

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