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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Fostering a Climate of Workplace Learning: the Legal Duty to Accommodate Employees and Students with Dyslexia

Dr Gail H Forsythe.

This combination of paper presentation and interactive components will focus on:

1) An overview of the nature of workplace learning concepts;

2) A comparison of Canadian, American and British workplace participation levels of women, visible minority, and aboriginal employees, as well as employees from those groups with a disability, in workplace advancement and training programs;

3) a historic review of the term "disability" and its use in the workplace today;

4) an introduction to three major types of learning disabilities;

5) an overview of U.S. disability ratios broken down by racial group and gender and the correlation to nature of employment;

6) a review of the facts to dispel myths surrounding employees with a disability and a comparison of the British, American and Canadian experience of employees with a disability;

7) an overview of how to model appropriate behaviour: the use of correct terminology concerning people with a disability;

8) the employer's role and obligation to create practical steps to accommodate employee needs;

9) an overview of Canada's statutory framework that fosters multiculturalism and equal opportunity in the workplace for people with a disability;

10) an overview of the five part "undue hardship" test required of employers who have a legal duty to accommodate an employee with a disability;

11) interactive facilitated discussion to provide participants the opportunity to hear from one another about how accommodation issues are addressed in their workplaces.

12) Interactive comparative analysis of participant observations contrasted against the Canadian statutory approach as outlined in the cases above.

13) summary of the principles that emerge from the Canadian cases to assist employers and employees to advocate legal reform in their respective jurisdictions and provide equality of opportunity and advancement for employees with a disability in their respective workplaces.

This session can be offered to an unlimited number of participants.


This session provides both a paper presentation and interactive components. It is intended to assist conference participants to understand how people from the four designated groups: women, visible minorities, aboriginal and people with a disability are affected by opportunities for advancement through workplace training programs. It provides a framework to better understand the work related needs of people with a disability such as dyslexia, the myths that surround employees with a disability; and the employer's obligation to respond with practical solutions that fit within the Canadian legal context. This session will provide participants with an opportunity to hear from other participants about how accommodation issues are addressed in their workplaces and where there is a need for legal reform


Dr Gail H Forsythe  (Canada)
Executive Director
Cultural Diversity Institute
University of Calgary

Dr. Gail H. Forsythe is an experienced lawyer, mediator and corporate ombudsperson. She holds a Doctorate in Law (2002) and Masters of Law (1992) from Duke University, North Carolina and Bachelors in Law (1986) and Education (1981) from the University of Alberta. Her doctoral research focused on a comparative analsyis of American and Canadian law related to the confidentiality of traditional settlement negotiations and agreements achieved in mediation. Called to the Alberta (1987) and British Columbia (1993) bars, Dr. Forsythe's practise experience includes human rights, civil and family litigation, harassment investigations, and serving as the first ombudsperson in Canada to assist lawyers and their staff to create inclusive workplaces. She is certified as a mediator by the Attorney-Mediators Institute, Texas and the Legal Education Society of B.C. Dr. Forsythe has mediated over 300 cases, many of which relate to workplace discrimination.
and the USA. She conducts harassment investigations, and provides consulting and trainnig services to organizations that want to enhance their cultural compentency by integrating diversity policies and other diversity initiatives as core business strategi

  • Duty to accommodate
  • Disability
  • Dyslexia
  • Workplace Learning
  • Employers
  • Comparative
  • Students
  • Canada
  • Multiculturalism

(Virtual Presentation, English)