Accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace canada

Undue hardship usually relates to two things, she adds.

One is whether accommodating someone would create a financial burden that is too great. When it comes to religion, Busby says, "what we accommodate are not preferences, but … Most religions have some flexibility around the margins." In Canada, human rights legislation and related case law set the parameters for making exceptions from the norm.

The issue has attracted the attention of the news media as well as advocacy groups, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Religious Discrimination Prohibited Title VII and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) both prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of religion.

These laws protect against offering less favorable terms or conditions of employment, such as pay, job assignments, promotions, training, fringe benefits, etc., as well as prohibiting workplace harassment and retaliation based on religion.

By Steven Collis Recent news stories describe the tension between Muslim workers seeking multiple prayer breaks at specified times during their workday and employers who need those workers on their assembly lines.

From Busby's perspective, the situation involving the request from the Hindu priests doesn't appear to enter into the realm of creating an undue hardship.

But she says there is a different principle that could apply in such a situation, and that is whether the accommodation made is "contrary to fundamental Canadian values." "That's a trickier question I think, and it's something that's not well defined in law." She also suggests the airport case is somewhat similar to one that arose at York University in Toronto earlier this year.

But she sees a question lingering around the situation involving the Hindu priests, and that is whether it is absolutely clear that their religion precluded them from dealing with women in any way.

"If that's true that they cannot deal with women under any circumstances at all then probably a religious accommodation is necessary unless that's something that courts and adjudicators would say is contrary to fundamental Canadian values." At Service Ontario offices, where residents go for everything from driver's licences to health cards, the goal is "to make reasonable accommodation where appropriate on grounds covered in the Ontario Human Rights Code," says spokesperson Cynthia Vukets.

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