Home|Conferences & Workshops|National Human Rights and Accommodation Conference - National


National Human Rights and Accommodation Conference

National • September 23 - October 7, 2020
Virtual Event


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In support of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Lancaster House is moving the 2020 Toronto and Vancouver Human Rights and Accommodation Conferences online.

Moving online will broaden the conference's scope, increase access to nationally recognized experts, and engage attendees across Canada as we combine the previously advertised conferences in Toronto and Vancouver to create our first
National Human Rights and Accommodation Conference.

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.

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Lancaster House's National Human Rights and Accommodation Conference has been approved for 12.5 CPD hours with CPHR Alberta. CPD hours for this event can be logged online, through your CPHR Alberta member profile.


Register today to earn your CPD credits with Lancaster!


In association with: https://www.cirhr.utoronto.ca/
 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:20 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:20 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 5


Sexual Harassment and the Workplace: Trauma-informed approaches to investigation and litigation

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Panelists

Angela Bradley
Lawyer/Mediator/Workplace Investigator

Joanna Birenbaum
Lawyer
Ursel Phillips Fellows Hopkinson LLP
John Donkor
Employer Counsel
Donkor Employment & Labour Law

Panel Summary

The Public Health Agency of Canada has defined trauma- and violence-informed approaches as "policies and practices that recognize the connections between violence, trauma, negative health outcomes and behaviours," with a focus on minimizing the potential for re-traumatization. In the workplace context, employers and unions are increasingly adopting trauma-informed approaches as best practices in responding to complaints of workplace sexual harassment due to the significant likelihood of trauma affecting both harassed individuals and their colleagues. In this session, experts will provide an overview of workplace trauma and explore the nature and effectiveness of trauma-informed approaches in investigating and litigating complaints of workplace sexual harassment.

  • What is trauma? What are common symptoms of trauma, and how long do they last? What traumatic events may occur in the workplace?
  • How might trauma present in someone who has experienced workplace sexual harassment? In addition to the complainant, who might experience trauma in relation to a complaint or incident of workplace sexual harassment? What challenges may be experienced in traditional investigation and litigation procedures by individuals who are coping with trauma?
  • What is a trauma-informed approach? What are the key characteristics or principles of trauma-informed approaches? What are the benefits of trauma-informed approaches?
  • What is a trauma-informed approach to conducting investigations? What are examples of trauma-informed interview techniques, and how do they assist interviewees who are coping with trauma? How do trauma-informed approaches help to ensure procedural fairness in an investigation?
  • What is a trauma-informed approach to litigation? How can union and legal representatives best support individuals who are involved in grievance or litigation procedures following a complaint of workplace sexual harassment?
  • What steps can workplace parties take to respond to workplace trauma more broadly?
  • What resources are available to employers and unions that are seeking to become more familiar with trauma-informed approaches?

Break

1:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:20 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:20 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 6


Mending Fences: Restoring a workplace poisoned by harassment

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Panelists

Christina Bains
Mediator
BC Labour Relations Board
Ron Pizzo
Lawyer and Workplace Consultant

Bridget Brownlow
Conflict Resolution Advisor
St. Mary's University

Panel Summary

Harassment often has a disruptive impact on the workplace; it can damage relationships, lower productivity, and jeopardize psychological health and safety, creating a toxic environment that an investigation alone will not repair. Workplace parties have consequently become increasingly aware of the need to undertake restorative efforts as part of a comprehensive response to harassment. In this session, experts will discuss the role of restoration in responding to workplace harassment and creating a safer, more inclusive workplace, with a focus on how restoration benefits the workplace; the types of interventions that can be used in restoration; and the ways in which workplace parties can support and contribute to restorative processes.

  • How does harassment affect the workplace? What structural factors increase the likelihood of workplace harassment? What types of preventive activities are effective in fostering a harassment-free workplace?
  • What are the signs or "red flags" of poorly managed or unmanaged conflict? What actions can parties take, and what kinds of resources exist to help parties prevent workplace conflict from escalating to disciplinary or legal action?
  • What is workplace restoration, and what are examples of restorative processes or interventions? Is workplace restoration always necessary in responding to harassment? What is the role of restorative processes in promoting psychological health and safety?
  • What are some examples of how restorative processes have improved a workplace, and what made those successes possible? Conversely, what kinds of actions or situations have led or are likely to lead to undesirable outcomes?
  • What factors or considerations will shape how workplace parties can productively participate in or contribute to workplace restoration? What kinds of support or coaching might be necessary to prepare parties to participate in workplace restoration?
  • If workplace restoration entails collaboration between labour and management, what are the chief obstacles to effective collaboration, and how can they be overcome? What are the risks to parties in collaboration for the purposes of workplace restoration, and how can they be managed? Are there specific risks or challenges with respect to union participation in workplace restoration?
  • What, if anything, can unions and employers do to minimize the damage inflicted by investigations on workplace relationships? How might an investigation be conducted with a restorative lens already in place? What are the legal and practical challenges associated with such an approach?
  • What kinds of follow-up are recommended to ensure that the benefits of restoration are lasting?

BREAK

3:15 PM - 3:25 PM

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:20 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:20 PM - 12:30 PM  


Keynote Address


Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality and Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights

3:25 PM - 3:55 PM

Keynote Speaker

Ardith Walkem
Lawyer and Mediator
Cedar and Sage Law Corporation

Topics

According to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal's analysis, Indigenous Peoples don't file as many claims with the Tribunal as non-Indigenous people. In response to this analysis and in light of the Government of British Columbia's commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in January 2020, the Tribunal released a report titled Expanding Our Vision: Cultural Equality and Indigenous Peoples' Human Rights. This report presented recommendations on how to transform the Tribunal into an institution that truly provides justice to Indigenous Peoples. In this talk, the report's author, Ardith Walpetko We'dalx Walkem, Q.C., will provide insight into how we can move toward achieving these goals through decolonizing human rights for Indigenous Peoples. Decolonizing human rights will include recognizing and eliminating the systemic barriers that Indigenous Peoples face in accessing human rights agencies and services. It also calls for active engagement with Indigenous Peoples to broaden the framework of humans rights to incorporate Indigenous definitions, laws, and approaches to protecting human rights.

END OF DAY TWO

3:55 PM

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 7


Difficult Accommodations: Responding to denial, defensiveness, and personality disorders

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Panelists

Cathy Knapp
Arbitrator/Mediator

Dr. Charl Els
Clinical Professor,
Department of Psychiatry

University of Alberta
Gordon Forsyth
Union Counsel
Pink Larkin
Michelle Henry
Employer Counsel
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP

Panel Summary

Mental health disabilities can affect workers' judgment, ability to cooperate, and perceptions of others, all of which will likely interfere in the accommodation process. In this session, a mental health expert together with experienced labour lawyers will provide practical guidance in dealing with situations in which the employee in need of accommodation seems to be either unwilling or unable to participate in the accommodation process. Specific issues to be addressed include the following:

  • When faced with a "difficult employee," should employers adopt a supportive or rehabilitative approach? Must employers always inquire as to whether disruptive workplace behaviours are related to a mental health disability before applying progressive discipline?
  • Can difficult people change if given a chance? Does the answer depend on whether the difficult behaviour is the result of a common mental health disability, a personality disorder, or simply a "bad attitude"?
  • Why might employees react defensively to suggestions that they may require accommodation due to a mental health disability? What, if anything, can be done to minimize the possibility of such a reaction? What course should be followed where an employee does not acknowledge a disability?
  • Do employers or unions dealing with workers in fragile emotional states have a duty to act with greater sensitivity than would normally be necessary?
  • Are employees with certain mental health disabilities more likely than others to behave in ways that disrupt the accommodation process? In what ways have adjudicators recognized that a mental illness may interfere with an employee's ability to fully meet obligations in the accommodation process?
  • What, if anything, can employers and unions do to overcome an employee's reluctance or refusal to cooperate in the accommodation process? What steps must employers take in order to fulfill the duty to accommodate? What steps must unions take to meet their duty of fair representation?
  • What should be done if it appears that, as a result of a mental health disability, an employee is unable to make rational decisions in their own interest? Is there a role in the accommodation process for the employee's family members or for some other (non-union) representative or support person?
  • When will an employee's lack of cooperation or other "difficult behaviour" during the accommodation process bring the employer's duty to accommodate to an end?

Break

1:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 8


Family First? Best practices and policies to balance caregiving and work

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Panelists

Allison Williams
Professor, School of Geography and Earth Sciences, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Research Chair in Gender, Work & Health
McMaster University
Jessica Derynck
Legal Counsel
Health Sciences Association of British Columbia
Colin Murdoch
Director, HR Advisory Services
Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity)

Panel Summary

In many workplaces, a majority of employees have family care obligations at any given time, but that doesn't mean that they are all entitled to accommodation. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many employees to work remotely while caring for family members, it's critical that workplace parties understand when the duty to accommodate arises and when to put in place appropriate supports to assist employees in balancing their work and responsibilities at home. What types of provisions should workplace parties negotiate to promote accommodative work arrangements? How can they ensure that policies are applied in a fair and consistent manner while remaining sufficiently flexible to respond to an individual employee's needs?

In this session, labour relations experts will explore the practical side of family status accommodations, examining best practices and policies in order to proactively address concerns without having to resort to grievance arbitration or a human rights complaint. Issues to be discussed include the following:

  • Education and Training: Is there any training that should be provided to managers or supervisors on how to respond to the workplace needs of employees with caregiving responsibilities? What about training for union representatives? Are there any measures that can be put in place to help organizations understand and accept unfamiliar family dynamics or cultural expectations, such as the need to care for extended family or people who are not legally considered "family members"?
  • Workplace Policies: What are some measures that parties can put in place to address family status issues before they become adversarial? Are there any suggestions that could be helpful for workers whose caregiving arrangements have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic? How does one maintain sufficient flexibility to remain responsive to a particular employee's needs while ensuring consistency and fairness across the organization?
  • Collective Agreement Terms: Are there any policies or collective agreement provisions that are helpful in accommodating family status? How should employers and unions address accommodation requests that conflict with provisions in the collective agreement, such as scheduling, benefits, or seniority provisions?
  • Sharing Information: What information should the employee or union provide to help make its case that accommodation is required? How can employees demonstrate that they made reasonable efforts to balance family and work obligations and that a workplace accommodation is the only reasonable solution? What type of evidence should the employer provide to demonstrate that a family status claim has not been established or that it has accommodated an employee's family status obligations to the point of undue hardship? Can an employer argue that having a number of employees seeking accommodations at the same time constitutes undue hardship?

BREAK

3:15 PM - 3:25 PM

Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Keynote Address


The Importance of Understanding Anti-Black Racism in Canada

3:25 PM - 3:55 PM

Keynote Speaker

Lorne Foster
Director, Institute for Social Research, and
Professor, Public Policy & Human Rights

York University

Topics

In this talk, Dr. Lorne Foster, Professor of Public Policy and Human Rights at York University, will provide insight into systemic anti-Black racism in Canada as a pervasive social problem. This will allow employers and unions to actualize the full potential of the workforce, promote a representative workplace, and facilitate an inclusive democracy and enriched society.

END OF DAY THREE

3:55 PM

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 9


The ABCs of IMEs: Constructing a fair and workable process

12:30 PM - 1:45 PM

Panelists

Mike Condra
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Queen's University
Rebecca Gewurtz
Associate Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science
McMaster University
Daniel Ingersoll
Employer Counsel
Cox & Palmer
Tamara Ramusovic
Union Counsel
Moore Edgar Lyster LLP

Panel Summary

The use of independent medical examinations (IMEs) in accommodation is highly contentious. Unions and employees may doubt the independence of a physician designated by the employer or whose income is derived mostly from performing evaluations for employers and insurance companies. Employees are reluctant to lay bare intimate details of their lives before a stranger and the employer. Employers, on the other hand, sometimes have reason to doubt the objectivity or adequacy of a treating physician's opinion. Given such misgivings, can workplace parties ever agree to IME policies and procedures that are acceptable and useful to employers, unions, and employees? In this session, experts will discuss this question, specifically addressing such issues as the following:

  • How and when are IMEs typically used in the accommodation process? What are problems with the prevailing approach to IMEs from the employer perspective? What are the problems from the perspectives of unions and employees?
  • How useful are independent medical examinations — i.e. those conducted by physicians — in comparison to other types of evaluations, such as functional ability or functional capacity assessments, which might be conducted by other professionals, such as psychologists or occupational therapists?
  • From the perspective of management or union representatives assessing a person's ability to function in the workplace, how useful are the reports generated by standard independent psychiatric evaluations? Are there standardized psychological tests/assessments that might be more helpful and reliable in the context of workplace accommodation?
  • Do medical professionals have any concerns regarding the often adversarial way IMEs are currently used? For example, is there evidence that IMEs might aggravate certain mental disorders or cause undue psychological distress to employees? Is there concern about the validity of an employee's consent to an evaluation given the power imbalance between the employee and the employer and the financial pressures employees may face?
  • When, if ever, might an agreed-upon IME or functional assessment process benefit the employer, the employee, and the union? For example, might such processes be used to address a lack of access to specialists? Would it be better for such processes to be agreed upon on an ad hoc basis or codified in a collective agreement?
  • Should unions and employers make more use of mutually agreed-upon experts — whether physicians, psychologists, or occupational therapists — to resolve disputes regarding accommodation before they proceed to arbitration? What would be the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach? If the union and the employer both agree to such an expert, in what circumstances, if any, can either party challenge that expert's opinion?
  • What would be the key features of an IME or functional assessment process that is acceptable to all parties?
  • Even if parties cannot agree on a standard process, what should be done to balance an employee's right to privacy with an employer's legitimate interest in having sufficient information to provide safe, appropriate accommodation?

Break

1:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Panel 10


Crunched by the Numbers: Artificial intelligence, algorithmic discrimination, and other emerging issues in workplace privacy law

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Panelists

Avner Levin
Professor, Law & Business
Department, Ted Rogers
School of Management, and
Director of the Privacy and
Cyber Crime Institute

Ryerson University
Jeffrey Andrew
Union Counsel
Cavalluzzo LLP
Lisa Stam
Employer Counsel
SpringLaw

Panel Summary

In this session, noted experts will explain how new technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are being used to manage the workplace. Pointing out the potential for infringement of privacy rights and prohibited discrimination, the panelists will provide guidance on how to take advantage of emerging technologies while respecting privacy and human rights.

  • What laws currently govern employer collection and use of personal employee information?
  • Does an employer's tracking of employees' off-duty Internet activity amount to the collection of personal information subject to privacy legislation? Are there any limits on such monitoring in provinces without privacy legislation applicable to the private sector?
  • Are the approaches taken by arbitrators with respect to employee privacy rights consistent with the approaches taken by privacy commissioners?
  • What is "algorithmic management"? How is it related to "people analytics"? What are the promises and perils of algorithmic management and people analytics in terms of workplace safety, productivity, privacy, and human rights?
  • What are the implications of increased use of AI for workers' privacy and human rights given that it can be used to construct detailed personality profiles of employees and potential employees based on personal, off-duty Internet use?
  • How are "wearables," which promise to increase workplace health and safety, currently being used in Canadian workplaces? What policies and procedures are necessary to ensure that wearables improve workplace health and safety without violating employee privacy?
  • Is there a way to reap the proposed benefits of algorithmic management and people analytics, such as more objective human resources decisions and increased responsiveness to employee demands, while protecting privacy and mitigating the potential for systemic discrimination?
  • How important is it that Canadian jurisdictions implement regulations similar to the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which requires companies to be able to explain decisions made by the algorithms they develop and use?
  • Are existing personal information protection regimes, with their emphasis on notice and consent, inadequate? If so, what should replace them? In light of the widespread collection of data and the ease with which it is shared and analyzed, must we move toward principles that restrict and limit the use and processing of information?
  • How can unions and employers negotiate collective agreement provisions that safeguard workers' privacy and human rights while respecting employers' legitimate business interests in using new technology and benefiting from algorithmic management and people analytics? Are there existing best practices in using AI and algorithms in workplace management?

BREAK

3:15 PM - 3:25 PM

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Registration 12:10 PM - 12:25 PM  
Introductory remarks by Co-Chairs 12:25 PM - 12:30 PM  


Keynote Address


The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Workers and Potential Solutions

3:25 PM - 3:55 PM

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Roger McIntyre
Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Toronto, and
Head of the Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit,
University Health Network



Topics

COVID-19 has resulted in a public health, economic, and mental health crisis. The economic shock and employment insecurity along with other factors related to COVID-19 are predicted to increase the rate of suicide and of mental disorders associated with suicide. Evidence also indicates that individuals employed in small businesses and the face-to-face economy are at especially higher risk. This presentation will discuss the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, the association between employment and suicide, and strategies to reduce suicide and the mental health hazards of COVID-19.

END OF DAY FOUR

3:55 PM

Keynote Speakers


CPD


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Conference Sessions

  • This program has been approved by CPHR Alberta for 12.5 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
  • This program has been approved by the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) for 12 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Ontario: 12 hours.