In this webinar, we were joined by Dorit Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California, Kelsey Orth, Partner at CCPartners, and Kennen Hutchison, a virologist and creator of @sciencewithkenne. This was a packed webinar with lots to cover. We had Kennen talk more about what a virus is, how it operates and how our immune system works to fight infections. Then we switched gears to talk with Kelsey about policies that Canadian centers should be thinking about. Finally, Dorit talked more about policies in the United States and what rights employers/employees have.
🎤Our Special Guests
Kelsey is a Partner at Crawford Chondon & Partners. Having completed a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations in addition to his LL.B., Kelsey strives to understand his clients’ “big picture”, allowing him to provide strategic and proactive advice. With this approach, Kelsey has assisted employers across a broad range of industries, both federally and provincially, in avoiding exposure and limiting risk, by helping them to develop and implement sound human resources and labor relations policies and practices. In particular, Kelsey focuses on avoiding or dealing with issues of unionization, unionized labor disputes, collective agreement negotiations, and working through the grievance process.
When an adversarial approach is more appropriate Kelsey is also a proficient and persuasive advocate for both federal and provincial employers at all stages of the litigation process, whether before an administrative tribunal, in grievance arbitration, or in civil litigation. Kelsey regularly represents employers before the Canada Industrial Relations Board, the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and has appeared before all levels of Court in Ontario.
Kelsey also regularly presents workshops and seminars on various labor and employment law topics for managers, supervisors, and human resources professionals. Regardless of the forum or issue at hand, Kelsey seeks the most effective and efficient way to help his clients overcome the legal obstacles that get in the way of business.
🧪Key Learning Outcomes from Kelsey
- People need the right information to make the right decisions.
- There is no easy answer as to whether employers can enforce this; it’s all about context.
- Employers should be looking at having these policies in place and discussing these staff and families as soon as possible.
- There is a common theme that a tribunal looks at a policy from an employer and it has to be reasonable, consistent with the terms of employment and you have to bring it to the attention of the employees. This policy needs to take into account exceptions and recognition of human rights or medical exemptions, otherwise, your policy will fail.
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law who specializes in legal issues related to vaccines, including exemption laws and tort liability related to non-vaccination. She has published law review articles, peer-reviewed articles, and blog posts on legal issues related to vaccines. She is also a mom of two and a member of the Parents Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines.
🧪Key Learning Outcomes from Dorit
- Anyone who is running a workplace has the duty to provide a safe environment and if you’re working with children, you have a duty to take care to provide for the safety of the vulnerable population your handling.
- Generally, a workplace can require a vaccine as workplace safety and health condition.
- There are some limits; unlike regulated vaccines, they are now under the EUA (Emergency Use Authorization), and the law isn’t clear. If you have a unionized workforce, collective bargaining often requires negotiating with the union before imposing something like a vaccine requirement. Everyone who has more than 15 employees is subject to the American with Disabilities Act. If an employee has a medical condition not to vaccinate, you have to accommodate, for example requiring them to continue wearing personal protective equipment.
- Under the Civil right act of 1964, if you have more than 15 employees and an employee has a religious objection, workplaces can tailor their requirements.
Kennen currently works as a Ph.D. graduate student researcher in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology where he studies neuroinvasive virology and herpesvirus pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Kennen also serves as a fellow under the National Institute of Health’s Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease training grant through Northwestern and actively communicates SARS-COV-2 information to the general public through his platform on Instagram and his company Science with Kennen.
🧪Key Learning Outcomes from Kennen
- You are 8% viruses!
- A virus actually isn’t that complex! The easy way to think about it is as an “infectious package” that spreads.
- Once inside the body, it hijacks and replicates and the cell is out of luck after that. They assemble and spread to infect more cells.
- We have a defense to fight against viruses called our immune system.
- Vaccines come in to help the adaptive immune system. Vaccines prime and train. They train your immune system to respond faster.
- The flu shot is different every year because it is actually a different vaccine for different strains of the flu.
- Because COVID-19 is so new, it is unknown what vaccines will look like long-term. It may be a one-time vaccination, become part of the series of flu shots that are available annually, or a shot that we need boosters of every several years.
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