March 17, 2011

The diversity of Canadian society is increasingly reflected in Canadian workplaces. Not surprisingly, new issues in accommodation are continually emerging and posing challenges for workers, unions, and management alike. In this audio conference, Lancaster’s panel of experts will explore how novel issues in accommodation are causing adjudicators to rethink traditional assumptions about discrimination law.

  • Obesity: Is obesity a disability under human rights law? What kinds of accommodative measures might an employer need to implement to accommodate an obese employee? When will the costs associated with these measures amount to undue hardship? In what circumstances will the quality of not being overweight be considered to be a bona fide occupational requirement of a particular job?
  • Transgendered: How are the rights of transgendered people protected under human rights codes? Is discrimination against a transgendered person based on the ground of sex or sexual orientation?
  • Religious Accommodation: Do employers have an obligation to provide employees with paid leave for the observance of religious holidays? Does a worker who practises a minority or “non-mainstream” religion have the same entitlement to religious accommodation? Does the employee have a duty to explain the significance of religious events to the employer in order to receive accommodation? Can an employer that serves a particular religious community employ only or give preference to individuals who subscribe to the same religious beliefs? When will adherence to specific religious tenets be regarded as a bona fide requirement for employment?
  • Learning Disabilities: When screening potential applicants for a position or promotion, does the employer need to accommodate a prospective employee’s learning disability? If a would-be employee fails a screening test due to a learning disability, is he or she entitled to a different position? What obligations are placed on employees with learning disabilities to disclose their limitations in order to receive accommodation? If an employer learns that an employee has a learning disability after a performance assessment of that employee has been done, is the assessment still valid?
  • Autism and Tourette’s Syndrome: What types of accommodative measures might be appropriate for an employee with autism or Tourette’s Syndrome? In what circumstances will the characteristics associated with these conditions be inconsistent with the bona fide occupational requirements of a position?
  • Intersecting Grounds: How do tribunals analyze cases where discrimination is alleged on a number of “intersecting grounds” that possibly compound the discriminatory impact?
  • Chemical Sensitivities: What is a “chemical sensitivity” and what steps might an employer be required to take to accommodate a worker suffering from this condition? For example, how should an employer accommodate an employee’s sensitivity to perfume or cosmetics? What type of medical information about the employee’s condition is an employer entitled to for the purposes of crafting appropriate accommodative measures?
  • Degenerative Diseases: What are an employer’s duties with respect to the accommodation of an employee with a degenerative disease, such as ALS? Can employees voluntarily assume the risk of injury and insist on remaining in their preferred position? How have decision-makers approached mandatory retirement policies that are premised on increased medical risk – for example, increased risk of heart attacks during strenuous or dangerous duties?

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.