2021 Agenda


5.5 CPD hours

8:45 - 8:55 am


8:55 - 9:00 am

Opening remarks from Key Media

9:00 - 9:25 am

Ontario workplace standards and legislative update

Changes to workplace employment standards and rules in Ontario, temporary or otherwise, have continually been revised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This session will provide an update on some of the important developments that employers need to be aware of, as well as what to expect in the months ahead.

  • New measures and updates to the Employment Standards Act, 2000
  • Changes to paid sick leave rules and regulations
  • Emergency leave, temporary layoffs, and changes in hours/work week
  • Health and safety standards and workplace inspections

Brittany A. Taylor

Partner , Rudner Law

9:30 - 10:10 am

Fireside chat: Diversity, inclusion and equity in the workplace

With a greater focus by all stakeholders on the increased importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, employers need to mindful of their legal obligations as they institute workplace changes, policies and protocols. How can organizations develop effective programs and achieve positive outcomes while also complying with employment law requirements? What effect does a hybrid work environment have on an organization's efforts to promote a more equitable and inclusive workforce?

  • Provincial and federal standards and regulations that are critical for employers
  • How to integrate D&I goals and objectives into the recruitment and hiring process
  • What type of data can employers ask for and collect from employees
  • How to integrate goals and objectives into performance reviews
  • Practical advice for achieving positive outcomes

Seth Holland

Williams HR Law LLP , Labour & Employment Lawyer

Laura Williams

Managing Partner , Williams HR Law LLP

10:15 - 10:50 am

Mitigation techniques for reducing constructive dismissal and other legal claims in employment contracts

The economic fallout of the pandemic and disruptions to business operations have created more challenges for employers as they adapt workforce needs to changing business requirements. Employers may need to update their employment contracts to incorporate recent court decisions and legislation, and to mitigate potential constructive dismissal and other legal claims. What are the key contractual considerations that employers need to be aware of to protect themselves? How might recent case law decisions impact their employment contracts going forward?

  • What qualifies as constructive dismissal in the workplace?
  • Impact of Coutinho v. Ocular Health Centre Ltd and other recent case law developments
  • How can employers change working conditions without the risk of constructive dismissal?
  • How can employers make workforce changes without amending current employment contracts?
  • What do employers need to consider in their contracts for new hires?

10:50 - 11:05 am

Networking Break

11:05 - 11:40 am

Update on mental health and human rights accommodation in the workplace

The continual impact of the pandemic on workplaces has introduced more complex mental health challenges and related issues for organizations. Whether they are dealing with chronic absenteeism or a refusal to work, employers need to be mindful of their duty to accommodate. What types of mental health challenges are employers facing, and how should they respond? What proactive steps do employers need to take to ensure they are properly accommodating employees' mental health needs before issues arise?

  • Employers’ legal duties with respect to human rights and mental health accommodation
  • How can employers avoid the risk of wrongful termination claims?
  • Employers’ duty to enquire and other mental health obligations
  • Mental and psychological conditions related to COVID, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression
  • Practical issues when it comes to accommodating employees in a hybrid work setting

Jonathan N. Borrelli

Associate , Keyser Mason Ball LLP

11:45 - 12:30 pm

Panel: Workplace health and safety: Navigating your obligations in the new reality

As employees slowly transition back to the office, employers will be confronted with various practical challenges as to how best to reintegrate employees while ensuring a safe and healthy office setting. What are some of the issues that employers need to consider in the post-COVID workplace? How has the current context greatly increased the complexity of health and safety regulations, and what does this mean for HR professionals?

  • Overview of provincial health and safety standards, emergency orders and municipal by-laws
  • Types of health and safety issues and requirements for remote workers
  • How to best enforce on-site health and safety protocols and practices
  • Nuances of work refusals due to ‘unsafe conditions’
  • How to reconcile social interactions with safety considerations in the office


David Law

Principal , LAWatWORK


Lee-Anne Lyon-Bartley

Executive Vice President , HSEQ

Christopher A. Sinal

Partner , Siskinds LLP

Ryan Conlin

Partner , Stringer LLP

12:30 - 1:00 pm

Lunch Break

1:00 - 1:35 pm

Bullying, harassment and toxic workplace environments: What is an employer’s legal duty?

All employees have a right to a workplace free from the threat of bullying and harassment. Recent legislative changes and current requirements mean that employers need to have policies and protocols in place, as well as to investigate and address a situation when an incident occurs. What are an organization’s obligations under current provincial standards and guidelines? What proactive measures can employers take to ensure a safe and tolerant work environment?

  • Overview of human rights and provincial and federal regulations
  • How to legally define and identify workplace bullying and harassment
  • How to update policies and protocols to reflect current legal requirements
  • Steps in conducting a workplace investigation when an incident occurs
  • COVID’s impact on negative workplace behaviour

Sunira Chaudhri

Partner , Levitt Sheikh Chuadhri Swann

1:40 - 2:20 pm

Workplace terminations: What are the new boundaries employers need to be aware of?

Terminations due to poor performance or chronic absenteeism can be a lengthy and difficult process for many organizations. Further, recent court decisions mean an increased risk of wrongful termination claims for employers, which can lead to higher severance payments and damages. What can employers do to better protect themselves during the termination process? How might changes in their contract drafting help mitigate future liabilities?

  • Terminations in the context of COVID and the impact on severance payments
  • How to manage the termination process: Performance reviews and disciplinary action
  • Tips for drafting enforceable termination clauses to minimize liability
  • How can employers mitigate their risk going forward?

Jonathan Dye

Partner , Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP

2:20 - 2:40 pm

Networking Break

Breakout session: ‘Ask our expert’ Q&A session

Have a question or comment for our employment law expert? Join this short Q&A session for the answers to your most important HR and employment law queries.

Jonathan N. Borrelli

Associate , Keyser Mason Ball LLP

2:40 - 3:15 pm

A guide for employers on the legal parameters of vaccinations in the workplace

With much of the population now in the process of getting their final vaccinations, employers need to assess how this will impact their office environment and how to deal with employees who remain unvaccinated. Can employers mandate that workers be vaccinated as a condition of employment? What factors should determine how employers respond if employees refuse vaccines? How does this impact their potential liabilities?

  • Case law and provincial guidelines impacting vaccines in the workplace
  • Privacy considerations and what information employers can request
  • Liability and other risks in voluntary vaccine settings
  • Disciplinary issues for non-vaccinated employees
  • Can organizations incentivize vaccinations?

Michael F Horvat

Partner , Aird & Berlis LLP

3:15 - 3:20 pm

Closing remarks and conclusion of the program

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