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Author Archive - Andrew Lawson

Andrew Lawson is a human rights and health and safety trainer and advisor, currently consulting to both the federal and Ontario governments. Since 1996, he has conducted extensive legal research in the areas of human rights and occupational health and safety law. He has worked in the people management business for over 25 years. Read more

Occupational health and safety missteps often cost workers their lives

Nova Scotia is a wondrous place full of amazing–and dangerous–places. I visited “Canada’s Ocean Playgound” this summer and came home with a renewed appreciation for labour history and the reality that occupational health and safety missteps often cost workers their lives.


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A Tribute to Jack

I didn’t know Jack Layton personally. Like many Canadians–particularly Torontonians, I have met him a few times and and shook his hand at public appearances. His legacy for the readers of First Reference Talks is significant. He was a leader.


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Think proactively about workplace policies and practices even if it’s not the law (yet)

In these articles that I write for First Reference Talks readers and in the training programs I design for my clients I usually focus on two important topics: Legal obligations of employers (especially new laws) Best practices in employee management (usually based on legal obligations) This article is about all that but also provides the […]


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Cyber-libel and the quest for information about workplace bullying

Without any question whatsoever it is smart for organizations and those who manage them to address issues of workplace bullying. It is not only smart but, since about this time last year, it is the law!


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Pride parade and the topic of messages

I had the opportunity to attend, and indeed the privilege of attending, Toronto’s Pride parade on Sunday July 3. There are people in Canada who feel inhibited from attending and people around the world who would in fact go to jail, or worse, for organizing or participating in a public declaration of the incongruity of sexual orientation that our societies have a tendency to want to hide; that’s why I consider it a privilege to attend. What’s all of this got to do with running a business and managing workers and not running afoul of the law?


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Workplace violence and privacy: what’s the connection?

So here’s a question to ask yourself—what are your legal obligations under Ontario law when you see an online photo of your worker committing violent acts?


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A true tale of a real-life industrial accident

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) is very clear on the many, many responsibilities employers have for ensuring the safety and well being of their workers. However, not listed in the OHSA is the duty to follow your gut instincts or the duty to lead by example.


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Listen to your employees and reduce your workload!

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) requires that when conducting a workplace violence risk assessment you take into account both the nature of your workplace and type of work you perform…


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Don’t sweep harassment under the carpet

Occupational health and safety law and human rights law both prohibit reprisals, threats and intimidation against a person for exercising their rights. Employers can be liable for stiff financial penalties for permitting this unacceptable behaviour…


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The perpetuation of gender-based stereotypes is a form of sexual harassment

Morris has been Everett’s supervisor for over six years. Recently Morris had hired several administrative assistants and was giving the new recruits a workplace tour. The entourage stopped near the area where Everett was working and Morris introduced everyone. “Everett is your go-to person, ladies, for advice on fashion, hair, make-up or anything else a girl needs to know these days.”


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‘Unwelcome behaviour’ in sexual harassment cases

The question for Steve in this workplace scenario is: did you know your actions were unwelcome at the time of the occurrence?


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Workplace human rights: Is this sexual harassment?

I am a workplace human rights trainer and I learn of some important real-life scenarios from my workshop participants. I am often asked to provide expert feedback. The following are two very interesting workplace human rights scenarios—I have changed the names of those involved:


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Employers are responsible for employees attending training

What is your workplace policy on protecting (accommodating) employees and others who have food allergies, environmental sensitivities and other “hidden” of “non-evident” potential disabilities?


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The best lessons are not all learned in the classroom – the threat of the irate customer

As a workplace violence consultant and subject matter expert, I am well aware that irate customers pose a very real threat to front-line workers. It’s not very often that I am that irate customer.


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Human rights and history

During my training workshops on workplace discrimination, harassment and violence participants often express interest in the topic of “political correctness.”


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