Home|Audio Conferences|"Cancel Culture" and the Workplace

"Cancel Culture" and the Workplace: Weighing freedom of expression against the employer's reputational interest

Thursday, October 8, 2020, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Mark Asbell



James Farrell

Union Counsel
Memorial University of Newfoundland Faculty Association
Jacqueline Laviolette

Employer Counsel
Alberta Health Services


"Cancel culture," involving a swift public backlash over a person's offensive statements or actions, follows a predictable course: A person will say or do something offensive, often accompanied by a video broadcast on social media. Social media users will then identify the offender and their place of work and bombard the employer with threats to boycott its products or services unless the offending employee is fired. In many high-profile cases — such as that of Amy Cooper, who lost her job at an investment firm after she was filmed calling police on a Black man who asked her to leash her dog in Central Park — the employer has responded by terminating the employee's employment and often making a public statement indicating that its now-former employee's views do not reflect the company's values. Should human resources decisions be influenced by angry Twitter mobs? Can employers afford to ignore their workers' off-duty actions? What if the employee's conduct raises questions about their behaviour in the workplace?

In this audio conference, leading experts will examine the workplace implications of "cancel culture," discussing issues such as the following:

  • What should employers and unions do if they become aware of information about an employee's off-duty conduct or personal views that calls into question the employee's behaviour in the workplace? For instance, if managers are caught on video making racist or sexist remarks, should there be an investigation into whether they mistreated people in the workplace or whether their decisions were tainted by bias?
  • Are employers able to discipline employees for private, off-duty statements that come to their attention, or are they limited to disciplining employees for public statements?
  • How close a connection is required between an employee's off-duty conduct and an employer's legitimate interests in order to establish just cause for discipline? Do arbitrators require objective proof of harm to the employer's reputation or to the orderly functioning of the workplace? Does it matter whether the employee intended the conduct in question to be private or public?
  • Can employees be disciplined or terminated with just cause for voicing their opinions? Does the answer vary depending on whether the statements were made on or off duty?
  • Can employees defend themselves against workplace consequences by arguing that they have a right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression under section 2(b) of the Charter? Under what circumstances does this right apply?
  • Will an employer open itself to a damage award if it releases a public statement condemning the employee's behaviour and indicating that the person no longer works for the organization?
  • What steps should unions and employers take if other workers refuse to work with a "cancelled" employee?


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.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Ontario: 1.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism 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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