Home|Audio Conferences|It's All About Attitude

It's All About Attitude: Is there a duty to be happy at work? When is a bad attitude a disciplinary offence?

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Colin Johnston



Sarah Molyneaux

Union Counsel
Molyneaux Law
Dillon Trider

Employer Counsel
Wickwire Holm


There are many reasons why people put on a happy face at work. Whether it's to please customers, to live up to job descriptions that seek applicants who are "upbeat" and "enthusiastic," or simply to smoothe the social machinery of the workplace, many of us feel pressure to act happy even when we aren't. Yet studies show that the belief that happy workers are more productive is not necessarily true, and requiring people to change or deliberately obscure their emotions to suit others creates emotional labour that can lead to a host of negative consequences. Is there a duty to at least appear to be happy or cheerful at work? Can employees be disciplined for having a "bad attitude"? How does attitude affect an arbitrator's assessment of penalty?

In this session, labour experts will examine happiness and attitude in the workplace, addressing issues such as the following:

  • Is there a duty to be happy at work? Could the answer vary depending on whether the employee has a customer-facing role where "service with a smile" is an expected norm?
  • Can a duty to be happy have discriminatory effects? For instance, are women more frequently expected to appear cheerful than men? Can employees from certain racial or cultural backgrounds feel a greater need to regulate their behaviour? Do higher-status employees in an organization typically have more leeway with their emotions?
  • Can an employee be disciplined for having a "bad attitude" or for their personality alone, or is objective misconduct required? Can these aspects provide added justification or bolster a case for discipline? Can "personality" be raised as a defence?
  • Does behaviour need to meet a legal definition of harassment in order to impose discipline? Can policies such as respectful workplace policies be used to enforce standards of behaviour when conduct doesn't amount to harassment?
  • What if an employee's behaviour interferes with or upsets the normal operation of the workplace? What are some examples of conduct that would rise to that level?
  • Do arbitrators take an employee's attitude into account when they are considering whether reinstatement is appropriate? What if the employee's attitude or behaviour generates friction with co-workers?
  • Are there any measures that employees with a "bad attitude" should consider taking in order to mitigate potential consequences in the workplace? What about suggestions for managers who have to address this issue with employees?


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 pre-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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