June 23, 2011

Employees are often faced with conflicts between their family and work responsibilities. Family status is a protected ground of discrimination under human rights legislation. But what is family status? Does it include an employee’s child-care and elder-care responsibilities, and to what extent? Is an employer required to accommodate an employee’s choice of shift or extended leave to care for children or elders? Join Lancaster’s panel of experts who will provide insight on these and the following issues:

  • Family Status Defined: What is “family status”? Who counts as “family”? Does it include family obligations to take care of sick or disabled relatives? To what extent will adjudicators scrutinize family arrangements and decide whether they represent parenting “choices” versus parenting “needs” and why does this distinction matter?
  • Family Status Discrimination: What are the tests used to determine whether a prima facie case of family discrimination has been established? What types of workplace rules or standards have been held to discriminate on the basis of family status? Does an employer need to accommodate an employee’s child care obligations? Can employees refuse overtime or extra shifts in order to attend to family responsibilities?
  • Accommodation: Are employers required to conduct an individual assessment of each employee’s “family status” needs? Does it make a difference if a child has special needs? Do employers have to accommodate employee requests for time off to attend to family responsibilities? What kinds of accommodation can employees request? What are the employee’s responsibilities in the accommodation process?
  • Leaves of Absence: When does denial of a leave of absence constitute discrimination on the basis of family status? Does an employer have to extend parental leave if an employee can’t find child care? Can an employee request different working arrangements upon his or her return to work after a leave to attend to family responsibilities? Can innocent absenteeism due to family emergencies warrant discipline?
  • Undue Hardship: What will amount to undue hardship to the employer? What factors do adjudicators consider to determine whether an employer has accommodated an employee to the point of undue hardship? Can the employer argue that the number of employees who may seek a similar accommodation amounts to undue hardship? When does an adverse impact on production constitute undue hardship?
  • Employer Policies and Programs: What types of policies and programs can employers implement to achieve work-life balance for their employees? What problems can these arrangements pose for employers and how can they be addressed? How can unions assist employees in achieving work-life balance?

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.
  • This 1.5 hour program can be applied towards 9 of the 12 hours of annual Continuing Professional Development required by the Law Society of Upper Canada. Please note that these CPD hours are not accredited for the New Member Requirement.