December 01, 2011

Mental illness has received the lion’s share of attention in the jurisprudence addressing mental disabilities in the workplace. Yet, learning and other cognitive disabilities also meet the definition of mental disabilities under human rights legislation, and these sorts of disabilities are more common than most people realize. As many as one in ten Canadians has a learning disability, but the stigma surrounding these disabilities remains, and the extent of the duty to accommodate people with learning disabilities is uncertain. In this session, Lancaster’s panel of experts will review the emerging caselaw in this area and provide guidance on recognizing and accommodating learning and cognitive disabilities in the workplace.

  • Learning Disabilities Generally: What is the definition of “learning disability?” Aside from learning disabilities, what other conditions might be classified as “cognitive disabilities?” What conditions are recognized as falling under this general term? How can employers tell if an employee or job applicant has a learning disability? What are the characteristics of common learning disabilities? What is dyslexia? What are the defining characteristics of attention deficit disorder? How can management and unions work together to identify employees who may be suffering from mental disabilities in the workplace?
  • Avoiding Stereotypes: What stereotypes about learning disabilities should workplace parties be aware of? What should be done to combat these stereotypes and the stigma that attaches to “mental disabilities?” What duty do employers have to educate the workforce about learning and cognitive disabilities? What steps can an employer take to ensure a non-discriminatory environment for employees with learning disabilities and to promote early recognition and accommodation?
  • Accommodating Learning Disabilities: When does an employer have a duty to inquire into whether employees have a learning disability? What information will trigger a duty to accommodate? Must an employer inquire into whether an employee has a learning disability before discharging or disciplining an employee with performance problems? Should employers ask job applicants if they have a learning disability? What is the extent of an employer’s duty to accommodate a job applicant with a learning disability?
  • Privacy Concerns: What privacy concerns should employers and union representatives be cognizant of when requesting medical information about employees with learning disabilities? How should workplace parties reconcile the duty to ensure a non-discriminatory workplace and the duty to respect an employee’s privacy rights?

This audio conference has been approved by the following:

  • The Law Society of British Columbia for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • The Law Society of New Brunswick for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • The Law Society of Saskatchewan for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development hours.
  • CPD for Members of the Law Society of Upper Canada: 1.5 Substantive Hours; 0 Professionalism Hours; Not accredited for New Members.