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Human Rights and Labour Law Conference

Ottawa • October 10 - 11, 2019
Shaw Centre


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HRPA Continuing Professional Development

HRPA Continuing Professional Development

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) has approved Lancaster House as a Continuing Professional Development Partner, guaranteeing that participation in our conferences, workshops and audio conferences will be accepted by the HRPA for CPD credit.

Register today to earn your CPD credits with Lancaster!

 

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 1


Taking Stock, Looking Ahead: Major caselaw and legislative update

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

Heather Cameron
Employer Counsel
Norton Rose Fulbright
Wassim Garzouzi
Union Counsel
Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck

Panel Summary

Experienced advocates will review the year's most important cases and legislative developments and flag significant litigation and legislative reforms on the horizon. Topics to be addressed will include recent developments in the law of harassment, the latest word on family status accommodation, and the most up-to-the-minute labour arbitration and labour law cases. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the conference, ensuring coverage of the year's latest and most important developments.

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 2


Federal Focus: Spotlight on changes to federal workplace laws

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Sarah Lapointe
Employer Counsel
Emond Harnden
Christopher Rootham
Union Counsel
Nelligan O'Brien Payne

Panel Summary

Top experts will review the many significant legislative changes and labour law reforms that have taken place in the federal sector over the past year, including the development of a new pay equity regime, major labour standards reforms and Canada Labour Code changes, and developments in federal harassment and violence prevention laws. The panel will also flag impending legislative reforms on the horizon, including the findings of the expert panel on complex workplace issues facing Canadian employers and workers and their implications. Final selection of topics will take place a few weeks before the conference, ensuring the most up-to-date coverage of recent changes to federal workplace laws.

NETWORKING LUNCH

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 3


Closing the Divide: Innovative strategies for confronting racial discrimination and supporting a diverse workforce

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Patricia Harewood
Coordinator, Oppression Prevention
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Hindia Mohamoud
Director
Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership

Panel Summary

Given widespread recognition of the advantages associated with diversity, most organizations have taken steps to promote diversity in the workplace. Yet conventional workplace diversity programs and policies have not always proven successful, and many people still experience racial discrimination and other barriers to inclusion in hiring and employment. In this session, experts will provide insight into practical measures that employers and unions may take to confront racial discrimination and support a diverse workforce.

  • Understanding diversity: What constitutes a diverse workforce? What are the benefits of diversity in the workplace? How does diversity affect productivity? Do organizations with diverse workforces have a competitive advantage?
  • Barriers in recruitment and hiring: How can employers improve recruitment and hiring practices to build a more diverse workforce? What barriers may diverse applicants encounter in recruitment and hiring processes? How does an employer's duty to accommodate apply during the hiring process?
  • Inclusivity at work: What is an inclusive workplace? What factors contribute to an inclusive workplace? What is unconscious bias, and what is its effect on the workplace? Can diversity and inclusion training help employers and unions create a more inclusive workplace?
  • Communication and conflict: What types of communication challenges may arise in a diverse workplace? How can employers and unions facilitate collaboration and improve communication between diverse employees? What are effective approaches to conflict management and resolution in a diverse workplace?
  • Addressing racism, discrimination, and harassment: In addition to complying with relevant obligations under existing legislation, what steps can employers and unions take to prevent or respond to racism, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace? How can employers create a respectful organizational culture and working environment?
  • Retention: What types of strategies are effective for retaining a diverse workforce? What factors influence diverse employees' decisions to stay at or leave an organization? Why might a diverse workforce be unresponsive to traditional retention strategies? What steps should employers take to address high rates of turnover among diverse employees?

BREAK (with refreshments)

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 4


When Rights Collide: Addressing competing rights in the workplace

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM

David Jewitt
Arbitrator/Mediator

Annie McKendy
Vice-Chair
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
Isabelle Roy
General Counsel and Chief of Labour Relations Services
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
Richard Sinclair
Manager of Legal Services and Labour Relations
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board

Panel Summary

While the saying "your rights end where mine begin" might sound simple enough, the task of figuring out how to balance one party's human rights claims against another party's legally protected rights creates daunting challenges for employers and unions. In this session, experienced adjudicators will draw from scenarios inspired by real cases to explore the appropriate process for assessing, handling, and resolving competing claims, addressing issues such as:

  • What are the main legal principles that should be considered when competing rights situations arise in the workplace?
  • How should employers and unions address an employee's request for disability or family status accommodation that conflicts with another employee's rights under a collective agreement, such as seniority rights? In what circumstances will an accommodation measure that interferes with collective agreement rights be found to constitute undue hardship?
  • What steps should be taken by workplace parties in cases of conflict between accommodation requests, for example, where one employee's request for disability accommodation conflicts with another employee's family status accommodation? Should seniority play any role in resolving such conflicts in a unionized workplace?
  • Are there any alternative dispute resolution models or informal resolution processes that should be considered when resolving competing rights claims?
  • How much information can be disclosed to co-workers without violating an employee's privacy?

END OF DAY ONE

3:45 PM

NETWORKING RECEPTION

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Friday, October 11, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 5


This Job Makes Me Sick: What to do when the workplace contributes to disability

9:10 AM - 10:30 AM

David Law
Employer Counsel
Law at Work
Morgan Rowe
Union Counsel
Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck

Panel Summary

In this interactive session, experts will examine some of the difficult questions that arise when workers claim that workplace stress, bullying, or interpersonal conflicts are making them ill. Through discussion of case studies that raise fundamental questions about the organization of work and the legitimacy of management actions, experienced labour lawyers and a mental health professional will address the following questions:

  • What is the appropriate response to an employee who goes on "stress leave" immediately after management has raised concerns about the employee's behaviour or performance at work? In such circumstances, can the employer assume the employee is abusing sick leave to avoid discipline or other types of management?
  • How do you draw the line between bullying and legitimate management actions such as performance management? Is the assessment based on an objective standard, or does an adjudicator examine the complainant's subjective perceptions?
  • Do employers have a duty to be more sensitive in dealing with individuals with mental disorders that make them especially sensitive to criticism, or is taking direction and criticism a bona fide occupational requirement?
  • Would changing an employee's supervisor or asking the employee's supervisor to adopt a different management style constitute undue hardship in situations where interaction with the supervisor is contributing to an employee's disability?
  • What is the appropriate response when an employee claims that his or her workload is causing or aggravating a mental illness or disability? Are employers required to change performance standards or reduce workloads for stressed employees?
  • How should employers and unions respond when an interpersonal conflict appears to be adversely affecting the mental health of one or more employees? Does it matter whether the behaviour at issue constitutes harassment or bullying? How can unions fulfil their duty to fairly represent all members when members are in conflict?

BREAK (with refreshments)

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Friday, October 11, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 6


You Can't Say That!: How far can employees go in publicly criticizing their employer?

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM

Dina Mashayekhi
Union Counsel
Jewitt McLuckie
Caroline Richard
Employer Counsel
Bird Richard

Panel Summary

When employee interests diverge from those of the employer, employees can be expected to voice dissatisfaction. In an era of electronic communication and ubiquitous audio and video recording devices (otherwise known as smartphones), it is easier than ever for employee expressions of dissatisfaction to become public — intentionally or unintentionally — or to find their way back to the employer. In such an environment, is it ever safe for employees to criticize their employers? Can unions, whose representation is based on employees discussing dissatisfaction with working conditions, continue to function? Is it possible for employers to protect their reputations and ensure respectful workplaces? In this session, a panel of experts will address these and other questions, including:

  • Do employees have any freedom to publicly express criticism of their employers without incurring discipline? Does it matter whether the employee is unionized or non-unionized? Does it matter whether the employee works for the government or for a private employer? In the case of public employees, when, if ever, will the expression of views on political issues be tantamount to criticism of the employer?
  • Do employees have a right to privately criticize their employers without being disciplined? What if comments that are meant to be private are reported to the employer or recorded and spread?
  • When will a statement made by an employee be treated as having been made to the "public," as opposed to in the course of a private communication? Are comments made to a friend at a pub private or public? What about comments made on a private Facebook page or forum accessible only to select individuals?
  • Does the employer have any legal right to know about or regulate what is said in union meetings or union communications with bargaining unit members? Does it matter whether union communications take place on the employers' premises or over employer-controlled email? What is "qualified privilege" and how does it apply to union business?
  • What is the extent of "union immunity" provided to elected, full-time union representatives who are on leave from the employer? Is the scope of immunity provided to part-time union representatives or stewards different?
  • What statutory protections exist in Canada for employees attempting to expose wrongdoing within the organization in which they work? When, if ever, can an employee be disciplined or discharged for alleged whistleblowing activities?
  • How should workplace parties deal with employee expression (including whistleblowing, academic freedom/scientific integrity, political speech, etc.) at the bargaining table?

NETWORKING LUNCH

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Friday, October 11, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 7


Two Years After #MeToo, #TimesUp: Do your sexual harassment policies and procedures withstand scrutiny?

1:00 PM - 2:15 PM

Tia Hazra
Employment Relations Officer
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
Craig Stehr
Employer Counsel
Gowling WLG
Jennifer White
Lawyer and Workplace Investigator


Panel Summary

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, complaints of workplace sexual harassment have continued to rise in number and generate unwanted publicity for businesses and other organizations. In this climate, when faced with sexual harassment allegations against an employee, many employers may be tempted to protect their reputations by firing first and asking questions later. However, acting too hastily may result in employer liability and improperly deny fairness to both complainants and respondents. In this session, experts will provide guidance on how employers and unions can develop and implement policies and procedures that effectively address sexual harassment while protecting victims' rights and upholding procedural fairness.

  • Policies and procedures: What are an employer's legal obligations with respect to preparing and maintaining a workplace harassment policy and program? What are the key characteristics of an effective workplace harassment policy? What provisions may be included in a collective agreement to address harassment?
  • Responding to a complaint: What steps must an employer take once it becomes aware of an allegation of sexual harassment to comply with its legal obligations under provincial and federal legislation? If it receives a credible complaint, must an employer conduct an investigation before disciplining or discharging an employee who has been accused of sexual harassment?
  • Conducting a fair investigation: What does procedural fairness require in the context of a sexual harassment investigation? What interim measures may be considered by the employer or requested by the union while the investigation is ongoing?
  • Taking action after an investigation: If there has been a finding of sexual harassment, can an employer rely solely on the investigation report as the basis for discipline? What factors should employers consider prior to taking disciplinary action? Is discipline always the best response to sexual harassment? What measures should an employer take when an allegation is not substantiated?
  • The role of the union: What is the role of the union in an investigation? Do employees being interviewed during an investigation have the right to union representation? What steps can the union take to protect the rights of a complainant or respondent? How can the union meet its duty of fair representation if both the complainant and respondent are union members?

BREAK (with refreshments)

2:15 PM - 2:30 PM

Friday, October 11, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 9:00 AM - 9:10 AM  


Panel 8


Adjudicators at Work: Rapid rulings on controversial issues

2:30 PM - 3:45 PM

John Jaworski
Board Member
Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board
Andrew Tremayne
Arbitrator/Mediator


Panel Summary

In labour arbitration, parties who understand the reasoning behind arbitral decision-making have a critical advantage. In this scenario-based session, attendees will gain insight into how arbitrators approach cases involving two complex issues: (1) employee privacy and the use of wearable surveillance devices, and (2) misconduct linked to substance use disorder.

CONFERENCE ENDS

3:45 PM

Keynote Speakers


Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Breakfast 8:00 AM - 9:00 AM  

Mental Health at Work: Meeting legal obligations, providing effective support

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Dr. Mike Condra
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Queen's University
Lori Harreman
Labour Relations Officer
Ontario Nurses' Association
Meg Steele
Legal Counsel
City of Ottawa

Workshop Summary

In a 12-month period, one in five Canadian adults will develop a serious mental health problem, and mental health problems are rated as one of the top three drivers of both short- and long-term disability claims by more than 80 percent of Canadian employers.

Managers, supervisors, union representatives, and other labour relations professionals will leave this session prepared to promote mental well-being in the workplace, support employees who are mentally unwell, and fulfill the legal obligation to accommodate employees experiencing mental health problems.

You should attend this session if you want to:

  • Understand the medical/psychological concepts of mental health, mental illness, and substance dependence, as well as the legal concept of mental disability.
  • Better understand stigma and know how to combat it.
  • Approach employees about their mental health in a helpful, non-threatening way.
  • Support and accommodate employees with mental health disabilities.
  • Develop effective, legally compliant accommodation and return-to-work plans.

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CPD


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Conference Sessions

  • This program has been approved by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) for 10.2 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
  • Members of the Law Society of New Brunswick may count this program for 9.0 Continuing Professional Development hours (4.0 for Day 1 and 5.0 for Day 2).

Workshop

  • This program has been approved by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) for 6.0 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
  • Members of the Law Society of New Brunswick may count this program for 5.0 Continuing Professional Development hours.