CPHR CPD: 1.5
Discrimination on the basis of family status is an ever-evolving concept that arises in every workplace. Many employees are dealing with child-care obligations in addition to care of parents, while employers struggle to deal with the absences and special arrangements that such accommodation can involve. The session will review the current state of the law on family status discrimination and provide a practical guide as to how employers can simultaneously meet the demands of the workplace and their legal obligation to accommodate their employees' family status.
The law on accommodation of family status is not consistent across the country, with some important differences in employer obligations depending on whether the employment is federally regulated or provincially regulated. Some provinces, such as British Columbia, have a different test for reasonable accommodation.
This session will be tailored for Nova Scotia employers, with a review of the obligations to accommodate family status and the limits of that accommodation. We will provide a road map of how to handle such requests for accommodation, including what information may be requested of employees, and what sort of “family matters” may have to be accommodated. Does it include time off to attend a child’s hockey game or just medical appointments? Does it matter if the child has special needs? What if the employee need to care for an elderly parent?
We will review decisions interpreting the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act as well as decisions from Nova Scotia labour arbitrators on this important topic.
In this session, participants will learn:
- The various ways in which the issue of discrimination of family status can arise;
- The law that applies to Nova Scotia employers with respect to family status accommodation, whether provincially or federally regulated and the legal tests and how they differ from some other provinces;
- A discussion of family status issues and benefits;
- Addressing issues of anti-nepotism policies and issues that arise when family members work together;'
- The current state of the law and recent decisions on family status discrimination;
- Proactive policies and procedures that employers can take that will assist in addressing family status issues; and
- A step by step approach that employers can take when their employees do request accommodation based on family status.
About the Facilitator
Tara Erskine, QC, CPHR is a partner in the Halifax office of Mathews Dinsdale, Canada’s only coast to coast labour and employment law firm. Working from the Halifax office, Tara provides strategic advice to employers across Canada and works as a partner with human resource professionals and in-house counsel. She counsels her clients on all conceivable day-to-day employment matters, ranging from conducting sexual harassment investigations to developing plans of action for employees seeking accommodation of disability, religion, and family status. She defends employers in court facing wrongful dismissal claims and in grievance arbitration. Tara assists in the defence of human rights complaints and acts for employers in matters before labour relations boards.
A member of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, the Law Society of Ontario and the Law Society of Alberta, Tara obtained her CHRP (now CPHR) through HRANS in 2005. Tara is a graduate of the University of King’s College (B.A.), Dalhousie Law School (LL.B.), and holds a Masters in Labour Relations and Employment Law from Osgoode Hall Law School (LL.M.). She has completed negotiation training at Harvard Law School and the Canadian Mediation Institute. In 2003, Tara spearheaded the founding of the Canadian Association of Counsel of Employers (CACE) and was its first director. She received the Heenan Ross award for her contributions to CACE in 2015. Tara served as a Commissioner (Part-time) of the Canadian Human Rights Commission from 2014 to 2017.
Tara was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2016. She has been recognized as a leader in Labour and Employment Law in Canada in Who’s Who Legal – Canada since 2017, recognized in the area of Employment & Labour by Chambers and Partners, and Best Lawyers in Canada in the field of Labour and Employment Law.
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