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This program is pre-approved for 4.75 CPD hours by CPHR BC & Yukon.

March 5, 2018 | Vancouver Convention Centre


  Registration opens
9:00am   Chairperson opening remarks

Chairperson: Jennifer Fantini - Partner, Borden Ladner Gervais

9:15am   Update on accommodation and disabilities in the workplace

This session will focus on recent developments in accommodation legislation and case law. The presenter will also provide guidance on best practice principles and processes for dealing with accommodation requests and preparing solid undue hardship defenses.

  • Legal considerations for accommodating visible and invisible disabilities
  • What needs to be included in an individual accommodation plan (IAP) for an employee with disabilities?
  • What impact will the September 2018 reinstitution of the provincial Human Rights Commission have on violation complaints?
  • What is the current threshold for establishing undue hardship?
  • Overview of the obligations outlined in section 15(2) of the Canadian Human Rights Act relating to health, safety and cost
  • How to prepare an undue hardship defense that is supported by objective and direct evidence

Speaker: Michael Hancock - Partner, Harris & Company

10:00am   Recent developments relating to accommodation, elder care and family status

Family status discrimination has been in the spotlight over the last year, with recent decisions expanding coverage to elder care. How should employers be evaluating and dealing with family status accommodation applications?

  • Overview of the various conflicting tests for evaluating family status applications
  • How do employees establish prima facie family status discrimination?
  • What are the most timely case law informing eldercare applications?
  • To what degree does the “legal responsibility” test apply in the context of eldercare?
  • How do the Supreme Court and Human Rights Tribunal of British Columbia differ in their approaches and what does this mean for employers?
  • What questions can employers legally ask employees regarding family status applications?

Speaker: Andrew Schafer - Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright

  Morning refreshment break
11:15am   Discipline and termination – Drafting enforceable termination clauses

Termination clauses have come into the spotlight over the last 12 months, with some significant cases relating to the drafting of termination provisions, fixed term contracts and dismissals with cause.

  • When will a termination clause be voided by the court and substituted with common law reasonable notice?
  • What is the threshold that employers must meet when terminating for just cause and what is the supporting case law?
  • Is a breach of company policy sufficient to justify a summary dismissal?
  • Does progressive discipline affect the employee’s common law entitlement to reasonable notice?
  • How to draft enforceable termination clauses and what lessons have been learned from recent case findings regarding termination?
  • When is a fixed-term employee entitled to payment to the end of the term?

Speaker: Nicole Howell - Partner, HHBG Lawyers

12:00pm   Legal guide to drugs in the workplace – Cannabis update

The legalization of cannabis has been at the top of the political agenda for the last year and the ramifications for employers still remain uncertain. This session will provide guidance on drug testing, impairment testing and monitoring cannabis use in the workplace.

  • How will the legalization of cannabis affect employers?
  • Risk mitigation for marijuana use in the workplace for people working in safety-sensitive positions
  • Update on workplace drug and alcohol testing regulations and guidelines
  • How should HR departments determine fitness for work in in safety sensitive workplaces?
  • Update on obligations to accommodate employees who have legal permission to consume marijuana for medical purposes
  • Legal guidelines for disciplining employees who are impaired by marijuana at work
  • Sample policies and procedures on drug testing, workplace cannabis use and impairment testing

Speaker: Michael Howcroft - Partner, Blake, Cassels & Graydon, LLP

  Networking lunch
1:45pm   Panel: Balancing empathy with risk mitigation: Mental health and the disciplinary process

Employers face a plethora of legal risks and responsibilities when disciplining employees who have mental illnesses. Obligations arise under common law, collective agreements, human rights, occupational health and safety, and workers' compensation. Panelists will discuss and debate the ethical and legal challenges of dealing with this delicate area of human resource management.

  • What is the legal definition of mental illness in British Columbia?
  • When is discipline an appropriate or necessary method for dealing with an employee with a mental health issue?
  • What is the most humane way of dealing with an underperforming employee who also suffers from poor mental health?
  • Should behaviour related to mental health even be treated as a disciplinary issue?
  • Supporting employees with mental health issues (and the employees around them) within the confines of discrimination and privacy laws
  • How to handle a situation where performance issues are directly related to mental health issues
  • Dealing with an employee who has mental health issues and that presents safety risks to colleagues
  • WorkSafe BC treatment of PTSD-related claims
  • What are the privacy obligations of employers relating to mentally ill employees?


Ryan Anderson - Partner, Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark, LLP

Richard Johnson - Lawyer, Kent Employment Law

Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, PhD, MBA, RPsych - Health Strategist; Workplace Mental Health Expert; Psychologist

Stay tuned for more panelists!

  Afternoon refreshment break
3:15pm   Mental health and accommodation – What you need to know

The British Columbia Human Rights Code prohibits employers from treating disabled employees adversely because of their disabilities. This becomes more complex and difficult in cases involving mental health issues.

  • What constitutes a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a mental illness?
  • What are the procedural and substantive components of the duty to accommodate in a mental health context?
  • How far employers may have to go to properly accommodate employees suffering with a mental disability?
  • How to conduct a thorough accommodation process in a mental health context
  • How is the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal now treating mental health cases and how will the forthcoming Human Rights Commission impact action on mental health?
  • When do stress and anxiety fall into the realm of mental illness?
  • To what degree is employee morale taken into account when considering undue hardship in a mental health case?

Speaker: Cameron Wardell - Lawyer Mathews, Dinsdale & Clark, LLP

Submit an enquiry


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Registration hotline:



General Information

Cris Warner
Event Coordinator

T: +1 416 644 8740 ext. 284



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