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Whistle While You Work?: Drawing the line on whistleblowing, free speech, and other forms of workplace expression

Thursday, March 19, 2020, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Noella Martin

Employer Counsel
Wickwire Holm
David Yazbeck

Union Counsel
Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP


Alicia Arana-Stirling

Legal Counsel
Nova Scotia Department of Justice
Susanna Quail

Union Counsel
Allevato Quail & Roy


In an era in which everyone carries a smartphone and freely shares views on social media, the chance of "going viral" is a real risk, as one Saskatchewan nurse discovered after receiving a $26,000 fine from her nursing regulator for criticizing her grandfather's care in a Facebook post. When can employees be disciplined for their off-duty comments? Does it matter if the comments weren't intended to become public? In what circumstances will workers receive protection as a whistleblower? In this session, seasoned advocates will review the latest developments on freedom of expression, addressing issues such as the following:

  • Whistleblowing: What statutory protections exist for employees attempting to expose wrongdoing within their organizations? Have any provinces passed legislation aimed at protecting whistleblowers in the private sector? When, if ever, can an employee be disciplined or discharged for alleged whistleblowing activities? Are they required to exhaust internal mechanisms or procedures for redress before going public? Do they have to establish that their criticisms or concerns are true in order to receive protection?
  • Public criticism of employer: In what circumstances can employees be disciplined for publicly criticizing their employer? Can they be disciplined for criticizing the employer to their co-workers? What about posting negative reviews on sites such as Glassdoor? Can employer policies or a duty of loyalty effectively limit employees' right to freedom of expression? Do employees have any freedom to express criticism of their employers online during their off-duty hours?
  • Social media/off-duty comments: How do adjudicators determine whether public statements made off duty and outside the workplace, including tweets, Facebook posts, or YouTube videos, harm an employer's reputation or damage the employment relationship? Does it matter if the comments were intended to be private? Can employees be "saved" by disclaimers on their personal social media accounts indicating that the views expressed are their own and not those of their employer?
  • Religious and political opinions: In what circumstances, if any, can the political activity of a public sector employee justify discharge or discipline? When can a worker be disciplined or dismissed for publicly expressing an unpopular political or religious opinion?
  • Union communications: How far do the constitutional principles of freedom of expression and freedom of association extend in protecting communications by union members? Do employers have any right to know about or regulate what is said in union meetings or union communications with bargaining unit members?


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 – $265, plus HST
Live Session for 2 or more (Boardroom fee) – $530, plus HST
Bundle Rate – Purchase a Live Session and receive the companion MP3 Recording for $165, plus HST
MP3 Recording – $265, 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 $265. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $165.

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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