2017 HRPA HR Law Conference - Onsite

Date and Time

Starts:10/19/2017 8:30 AM

Ends:10/19/2017 4:30 PM

Event Type



Vantage Venues (Former St Andrews Club and Conference Centre) - 16th Floor

150 King Street West

Toronto, ON


HRPA Members:
$595 + Taxes
$715 + Taxes
Join HRPA Now


Additional Information

Registration Deadline:
October 12, 2017
Seating is Limited

Event Sponsor

This event will be offered in both in-person & online formats. Click here to register for Webcast.


Accredited CPD for licensees of The Law Society of Upper Canada: 6 Substantive Hours

Are you equipped with the knowledge you need to stay compliant and protect your organization?

Beyond simply meeting the minimum standards, HR professionals are the first line of defense when it comes to pre-emptively and strategically protecting the organization – and its individuals – from risk. They need to keep abreast of ever-shifting employment legislation, and design sound processes and policies to circumvent potential problems before they ever occur.

In HRPA’s annual Employment Law Conference 2017, learn about leading-edge strategies and emerging legislative trends to ensure you have the most current knowledge about how to best protect your workplace.

The conference will address six of the most pressing topics in the employment law landscape today:


  1. Employee Union Drives – Do’s and Don’ts To Protect Your Organization
  2. Stealing Confidential Information and Clients – How to Deal with Departing Employee Misconduct
  3. ESA Complaints: Is your Workplace Exposed to Liability
  4. Dealing with legal counsel: Negotiation strategies behind the robe
  5. Bulletproof HR files: Best practices - panel discussion
  6. Advanced terminations strategies - panel discussion

This year’s conference will be highly interactive, with opportunity during each session for audience questions.


Conference Sessions 

1. Employee Union Drives – Does and Don’ts To Protect Your Organization

During a union organizing drive, employers try to convince employees that joining a union is not in their or the company's best interests. It is important for the employer to be mindful of complex labour laws to effectively and efficiently defeat a union organizing drive as well avoid potential liability.
The line between what is permissible conduct during a union organizing campaign is not always clear. Gain a clear understanding of what is prohibited, and learn how to defeat a union organizing drive within the confines of what is permissible under the applicable law in this session.

2. Stealing Confidential Information and Clients – How to Deal with Departing Employee Misconduct

Nearly 60 per cent of employees who leave a job are stealing company data, according to a recent study. As a result, employers need to be aware of how to stop employees from stealing confidential information and clients early, quickly, and effectively.
There are a number of ways to prevent a departing employee from stealing confidential information and clients. Some strategies can start as early as prior to the employee commencing their employment, while others can occur shortly after the employee departs. Knowing the law can assist in protecting confidential information and preserving clientele.
Learn about the key ways to protect your company from departing employee misconduct include in this session.

3. ESA Complaints: Is your Workplace Exposed to Liability

ESA complaints are becoming increasingly common due to recent legislative amendments. Employers need to be aware of what is required under the ESA and how to effectively and efficiently respond to complaints when they arise.
Learn about the minimum standards for most employees in Ontario, and learn how the Ministry of Labour administers the ESA and its regulations in this session.
The session will also discuss ways employers can avoid potential liability in the areas described above, as well as strategies for dealing with claims.

4. Dealing with legal counsel: Negotiation strategies

Despite your best efforts, at some point in their career, every HR professional receives a lawyer’s letter demanding more severance or alleging some egregious act such as discrimination, constructive dismissal, or a similar issue.
This session will discuss ways to initially respond to various legal claims raised by counsel in order to discourage escalation or strategically position the employer for subsequent legal proceedings.

5. Bulletproof HR files: Best practices - panel discussion

Most HR professionals recognize the importance of documenting employees’ performance. Avoiding common mistakes and knowing how to document allows employers to effectively monitor employee performance and minimizes the risk of potential liability when terminating employees.
This session will examine what key documents employees’ files should contain as well as how to record employee performance in an appropriate and effective manner.

6. Advanced terminations strategies - panel discussion

Although it is often easy to calculate how much notice or severance an employee is entitled to, it can be useful to go beyond the technical requirements in calculating severance packages and utilize advanced techniques that are cost-effective and proactive.
This session will explore unique situations which can arise when terminating an employee as well as strategies ways to minimize costs.



At the end of the Conference, all attendees will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a roundtrip airfare and two night accommodations in either San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando or Las Vegas! Attendees must be present in the room or online (if registered for the webcast), at the time of the draw to be eligible to win the prize.


Session #
7:30 am – 8:30 am

8:30 - 8:40 am
Welcome & Introduce Session #1
8:40 am – 9:40 am Session #1 Employee Union Drives – Do’s and Don’ts To Protect Your Organization
9:40 am - 9:55 am
9:55 am - 10:00 am
Introduce Session #2
10:00 am - 11:00 am
 Session #2
Stealing Confidential Information and Clients
11:00 am - 11:05 am
Introduce Session #3
11:05 am – 12:00 pm
Session #3
ESA Complaints: Is your Workplace Exposed to Liability
12:00 pm – 12:55 pm
12:55 pm – 1:00 pm
Introduce Session #4
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Session #4
Dealing with Legal Counsel: Negotiation strategies behind the robe
2:00 pm - 2:10 pm

2:10 pm - 2:15 pm
Introduce Session #5
2:15 pm – 3:15 pm
Session #5
Bulletproof HR files: Best practices - Panel discussion
3:15 pm – 3:20 pm
Introduce Session #6
3:20 pm – 4:20 pm
Session #6
Advanced terminations strategies - Panel discussion
4:20 pm – 4:30 pm

Speaker bio(s)

Chair David Whitten

David Whitten, Partner

David is a highly sought after lawyer with expertise in employment law and a senior partner at Whitten & Lublin, a Toronto-based employment law firm focusing on the strategic resolution of complex workplace issues and challenges for both employers and employees.

What sets David apart is his abiding belief in fairness. He holds that the most productive and successful work environments are those in which both the employer and employees are treated with respect. This ethical standard makes him a compelling advocate in negotiations or in court and an opponent to be reckoned with.

David also places great stock in flexibility and finding solutions through negotiated resolution. However, he is also a tenacious litigator. He has appeared before all levels of court in Ontario and a range of tribunals, including: The Ontario Labour Relations Board, Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal.

For private and public sector employers, he has provided knowledgeable counsel on a broad range of issues, including: workplace safety and insurance, employment standards, human rights, hiring, terminations, involuntary and voluntary buyouts and common law obligations in Canada.

David’s expertise and straight talk are widely recognized in Toronto media circles. His viewpoint has been sought by The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and The National Post, and he has commentated on employment issues in interviews with CBC Radio One’s, Here and Now, and News Talk 1010. He is also frequently asked to speak on employment issues by The Human Resources Professional Association, The Canadian Payroll Association and the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada.

In 2013, Lexpert named David as a litigator to watch in its US Guide to Leading Cross-border Lawyers. In 2015 and 2016, David was ranked by Lexpert as a leading practitioner frequently recommended for his work with both employers and employees. He also co-authored “HR Manager’s Guide to Independent Contractors in the Workplace” which was published by Carswell.

Co-Chair James Heeney

James Heeney, Partner

James Heeney is a partner at Robinson Heeney LLP. He provides advice to both employers and employees on all areas of employment law. James is driven to create a firm that focuses on integrity and attention to detail but which also provides advice which is cost effective and timely. He works diligently to ensure his clients make strategic and educated long term decisions.

His employer side practice focuses on providing strategic daily advice and litigation support. He assists clients with employment agreements, policy manuals, terminations and human rights issues. James also has significant experience advising clients on drafting and litigating breaches of restrictive covenants.

In respect of the employee side of his practice, James routinely advises clients on issues relating to executive compensation, employment contracts, terminations and human rights.

James is an experienced workplace investigator having performed investigations in respect of all areas of employment law. James has experience performing complex investigations in both the unionized and non-unionized workplaces in which there is a need for both thorough and timely reporting. Before founding Robinson Heeney LLP, James gained valuable experience practicing at a large national firm as well as a boutique employment law firm. James graduated from Queen’s University, and was called to the bar in 2004. Upon graduating from Queen’s James was awarded the prize for overall academic achievement, as well as the Law Society’s Award of Excellence. James was named by the Canadian HR Reporter, a national employment law magazine, as a leading employment lawyer in Toronto.

James has significant experience performing speaking engagements, seminars and writing articles. James has spoken on all areas of employment law and workplace investigations on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Federated Press and the Learning Forum amongst others. He has gained a successful reputation and has proven his skills in creating and facilitating employment law seminars in an understanding and comprehensive format which has resulted in invitations to speak at several organizations annual conferences.

James has written numerous articles for several employment law forums and has published articles with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation which may be found at cbcnews.ca with respect to the area of employment law.

Speaker Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw, Lawyer

Andrew Shaw is a partner in the Firm’s Employment & Compensation Law Group. He joined Baker McKenzie LLP as an associate in 2010 and was admitted to the partnership in 2017. Prior to attending law school, Andrew held labour relations/human resources positions at both private and public sector companies. In these roles, he managed the processing of grievances to an appropriate resolution, assisted internal clients with the interpretation of employment-related legislation, and provided counsel to senior management as required.

Andrew assists clients with all aspects of the employment relationship, both unionized and non-unionized, in the province of Ontario and throughout Canada. He advises and represents employers in matters regarding employment standards, labour arbitration, collective bargaining, human rights, wrongful dismissals and occupational health and safety.

Speaker Allyson Fischer

Allyson Fischer, Partner

As a litigation lawyer in Hicks Morley's Toronto office, Allyson has conducted numerous trials, commercial arbitrations and hearings before various administrative tribunals, including the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She has argued at all levels of Ontario courts including the Superior Court of Justice, Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal for Ontario. As well, she has litigated cases in Alberta and Nova Scotia.

Allyson routinely represents clients in: • complex wrongful dismissal claims involving executive-level employees, detailed commission, compensation and stock option plans, shareholder agreements and breaches by presidents and CEOs of their statutory duties • commercial disputes including partnership agreements and contracts relating to ownership of books of business • labour disputes, seeking injunctive relief for picketing when appropriate • wrongful competition matters, ranging from restrictive covenants, breach of confidence, breach of fiduciary duties and breach of good faith.

Allyson recognizes an immediate and strategic response is often imperative in her area of practice. She also understands the importance of electronic evidence and works closely with a team of technology experts to put clients in the best position to successfully litigate these cases. Allyson has negotiated numerous protocols to ensure departed employees comply with their obligations, including protocols for the return and deletion of confidential documents and information.

Speaker Kathleen Chevalier

Kathleen Chevalier, Associate, Stikeman Elliott LLP

Kathleen Chevalier is an associate practising in the Employment, Labour and Pension Group in Stikeman Elliott's Toronto office. She advises clients on all aspects of the employment relationship in both unionized and non-unionized environments, and provides advice in respect of the employment impact of commercial transactions.

Kathleen routinely represents clients in litigation arising out of the employment relationship including wrongful dismissal litigation, grievance arbitration and matters before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Kathleen conducts in-house supervisory training seminars on such topics as employment standards, human rights compliance, occupational health and safety and enforcing workplace policies and procedures. She has also assisted many employers with achieving compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and is a regular contributor to Stikeman Elliott’s Employment and Pension Law blog, www.canadianemploymentpensionlaw.com.

Speaker Sarah Nixon-Suggitt

Sarah Nixon-Suggitt, CHRP, CHRL, Executive Director, Human Capital Management

Sarah Nixon-Suggitt Joined Timbercreek in February 2013 as Executive Director, Human Capital Management. Ms. Nixon-Suggitt’s responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of human capital for Timbercreek, including organizational design, employee relations, talent management and learning and development.

Ms. Nixon-Suggitt has over 20 years of experience in human capital management and talent acquisition. Prior to joining Timbercreek, Ms. Nixon-Suggitt was Vice President, Human Resources at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. and Assistant Vice President, Talent Acquisition at Manulife Financial Inc. Ms. Nixon-Suggitt also spent a number of years in the executive search industry in both Canada and the United States.

Ms. Nixon-Suggitt holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours Political Science from the University of Western Ontario and is a graduate of the Advanced Program in Human Resource Management at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto.

Speaker Blair McCready

Blair McCready, Partner, Dentons Canada LLP

Blair McCreadie is a partner in the Employment & Labour Group of Dentons Canada LLP's Toronto office, where he practises in all areas of employment and labour law. Blair is also a member of the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group, and provides strategic advice to clients on government relations and public policy issues.

Blair has also contributed articles to the Canadian Employment and Equity Rights newsletter as well as Workplace News and Canadian Corporate Counsel. He has also been a Co-Instructor at the University of Guelph, Office of Open Learning, for courses on occupational health and safety law, negotiations and contract administration. He also co-authored a book for human resources professionals on occupational health and safety.

Blair is also the immediate Past President of the Ontario PC Party, and has been a frequent media commentator on provincial political issues, having appeared on TVOntario’s Fourth Reading, the Michael Coren Show, CFRB (Toronto), CFRA (Ottawa) and CBC Newsworld.

Blair prides himself on providing proactive, results-based advice to clients. Blair has represented employers in Ontario Labour Relations Board proceedings, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board appeals, grievance arbitrations, employment standards and human rights complaints, and wrongful dismissal actions. He has particular experience advising clients in the forestry and transportation sectors.

Speaker Carl Cunningham

Carl Cunningham, Partner, Bennett Jones LLP

Carl Cunningham provides strategic employment advice to management (including the on-boarding and separation of C-Suite executives) and frequently provides advice regarding the transfer of employees in complex corporate transactions..

Carl's practice includes advising both federally and provincially regulated employers regarding all aspects of employment law. Carl assists employers in establishing the employment relationship, such as drafting and negotiating employment contracts, change of control agreements and workplace policies, and complying with applicable legislation, such as employment standards, health and safety and the Human Rights Code. He also provides strategic advice to clients on issues that arise during the course of the employment relationship, such as managing absenteeism, use of independent contractors, accommodating injured workers, administering discipline and responding to allegations of workplace harassment. In the event that the employment relationship ends, Carl provides employers with guidance on cost effective ways to structure termination packages and headcount reductions.

In addition to providing employers with strategic advice, Carl also represents employers in a broad range of employment disputes. He frequently attends mediations and appears in the Superior Court of Justice on wrongful dismissal litigation and claims relating to breach of post-employment obligations, including moving for and responding to injunctions. Carl also represents employers at labour- and employment-related tribunals, including the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, Canada Industrial Relations Board, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, boards of arbitration, and Coroner's Inquests.

Carl also advises on employee privacy law issues. Carl is recognized as one of Canada's "Leading Lawyers under 40" in the 2014 edition of Lexpert's annual Rising Stars awards.

Speaker Blake Moran

Blake Moran, Counsel, Kellogg Canada Inc.

Blake Moran is in-house counsel with Kellogg Canada Inc. His practice is focused on providing Kellogg’s Canadian and global business units with practical and strategic advice in many areas, particularly labour and employment, corporate commercial, and IT. Prior to joining Kellogg Canada, Blake worked at a large international law firm in its financial services and insolvency law groups. Blake graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and was called to the Ontario bar in 2012. He also holds a Master of Business Administration from Brock University and a Bachelor of Medical Science from Western University.

Speaker Meaghen Russell

Meaghen Russell, Partner, Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP

Meaghen Russell is a Partner with the law firm of Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP. Meaghen obtained a dual JD/LLB degree from the University of Windsor and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2005. She first practised employment and human rights law in Chicago, Illinois, prior to returning home to Toronto in 2011 to practice labour and employment law.

Meaghen's practice involves advising and representing employers on a wide range of employment and labour matters, including complicated human rights issues, workplace accommodation, wrongful dismissal litigation and employment contracts and policies. Meaghen regularly provides training to clients on a variety of topics including workplace accommodation, social media in the workplace, attendance management, and workplace violence and harassment..

In her spare time, Meaghen enjoys cycling and, to her mother’s surprise, a newly found love of gardening.

Speaker Melanie Polowin

Melanie Polowin, Partner, Gowling (WLG) Canada LLP

Melanie Polowin is an experienced practitioner of employment law. An Ottawa-based Gowling WLG partner with more than 22 years of experience, Melanie provides pragmatic, real-world advice and solutions to employers.

Melanie was recognized by The Best Lawyers in Canada 2015 as “Lawyer of the Year” for employment law in the Ottawa, Ontario area, and speaks regularly on key employment law issues of concern to Canadian employers. In 2017, she achieved recognition in the inaugural Acritas Stars database, which is based on Acritas’ global Sharplegal survey of more than 4,000 general counsel. Feedback on Melanie obtained through the survey included: "I like her a lot. She is very responsive and very knowledgeable and she is also very solutiondriven."

Melanie advises private sector Canadian and international employers of all stages and sizes, on every phase of the employment relationship, from recruitment through termination, startup to wind-down. She assists buyers, sellers and investors to understand and manage the employment aspects of corporate life-cycle events, in connection with new entrants into the Canadian market, financings, mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.

Melanie worksclosely with clients to implement meaningful proprietary interest and non-competition protections, and to develop effective templates, contracts, policies, and risk-reduction strategies that reflect the practical and unique needs of each client's business. Melanie is also a skilled negotiator with extensive experience in managing and resolving employment disputes.

Speaker Jennifer Fantini

Jennifer Fantini, Partner

Jennifer Fantini is a partner in the Vancouver office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. Prior to that she practiced in the Toronto office for fifteen years. She practises in the areas of labour relations and employment law. Jennifer advises public and private sector employers with respect to employee discipline and termination, wrongful dismissal, employment policies and contracts, employment standards, and human rights issues.

She also represents both employers and employees in wrongful dismissal and related civil litigation (at various levels of court), and appears on behalf of clients before various administrative tribunals, including human rights tribunals and labour relations boards. Jennifer is retained to conduct investigations on behalf of clients in relation to human rights, harassment and discrimination complaints, and to conduct client training on a variety of labour and employment issues. Jennifer represents unionized employers in collective agreement negotiations and arbitrations. She has a special interest and expertise in constructive dismissal law.

Speaker Trevor Lawson

Trevor Lawson, Partner

Trevor Lawson is a partner in our Labour & Employment Group in Toronto.

Mr. Lawson's broad practice encompasses all aspects of labour and employment-related litigation, labour relations, corporate transactions, executive compensation and privacy. He has represented employers in proceedings before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Court of Appeal for Ontario, Ontario Labour Relations Board, Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, boards of arbitration, coroner’s inquests and other administrative tribunals. His clients carry on business in a wide range of sectors, including banking and finance, insurance, retail, energy, technology, manufacturing, hospitality, consumer goods, property management and pharmaceuticals.

In 2011, Mr. Lawson was recognized by Lexpert Magazine as a "Rising Star", one of Canada's leading lawyers under the age of 40 and was recognized by Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading lawyer in Canada in the area of workplace human rights. He was also recognized as a “Canadian Litigation Lawyer to Watch” in the 2012 Lexpert U.S. Guide - Litigation. He regularly makes presentations to employers on a wide range of employment-related subjects and is regularly interviewed and quoted as a labour and employment law expert for radio, television, newspapers and magazines.

Mr. Lawson received his BA (Hons.) in Political Science from McMaster University in 1995, and his LL.B from Dalhousie University in 1998. He was called to the Ontario bar in 2000. Mr. Lawson is a member of the Canadian Bar Association, American Bar Association and the Canadian Association of Counsel to Employers.

HRPA Footer