February 14, 2023

Society has begun to use the term “neurodivergent” to refer to people with lifelong neurological or developmental conditions who learn, act, and work in ways that deviate from the norm. Accepting or promoting neurodiversity requires recognition that these differences reflect natural, non-pathological, variations in brain structure that can be strengths rather than deficits. In this session, experts will discuss how neurodiversity relates to the legal concept of disability and how individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and learning disabilities can be accommodated in both employment and union processes.

  • From the perspective of employers and unions, should neurodivergence simply be treated as another form of disability or is neurodiversity a potential source of organizational advantage that should be actively promoted in the same way as other forms of organizational diversity?
  • Given the neurodiversity movement’s broad acceptance of self-identification, must employees who identify as neurodivergent provide evidence of a medical diagnosis to access programs designed to recruit diverse employees? How should employers respond to pre-employment or early employment disclosure when it occurs?
  • How do common stereotypes affect the inclusion and accommodation of neurodivergent employees in the workplace? What can be done to combat these stereotypes?
  • What should workplace parties know about specific conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, and learning disabilities falling under the umbrella of neurodivergence? Do these conditions share any similarities? How might they affect an employee’s work performance?
  • What are the signs an employee may be struggling with work performance or workplace relationships because of a neurological difference such as ASD or ADHD? Faced with such signs, does an employer have a duty to inquire as to whether the employee in question requires accommodation?
  • What are some examples of appropriate and effective accommodations for neurodivergent employees?
  • What type of medical information can employers require from employees seeking accommodation on the basis of neurodivergence? Can a detailed neuropsychological evaluation report be required? How often, if ever, should updated medical information be requested from a neurodivergent employee, who, by definition, has a lifelong condition?
  • What accommodation should unions provide to neurodivergent members accessing union services and using union processes?