Posted by Ken Krupat on Jun 3, 2013 in Employment Law Issues, Human Rights and Discrimination, Recent Issues, Uncategorized, Workplace Issues | 0 comments Canadian employers are required to accommodate the needs of religious employees in the workplace.This requirement can extend to a number of different issues including weekly Sabbath Observance, religious holy days, daily prayer breaks, religious dress and, sometimes, disputes relating to employer requirements.
The Supreme Court of Canada has established that employees seeking any of these accommodations for religious purposes are not required to prove that they are religiously by a particular religion or religious leader to observe such practices.
Rather, they need only prove that they are sincere in their belief and observance of a particular practice.
In 2012, the Supreme Court determined that women who wear niqabs may be required to remove them when testifying in court in some circumstances.
However, this has not yet been applied to workplaces. Workplace Accommodation: Employer Requirements: If employees are asked to do something that would violate their religious beliefs, practices or customs, they may be able to get an exemption from these requirements for religious reasons.
There are very few cases in which Canadian courts, tribunals or arbitrators have actually found that it would create “undue hardship” to permit an employee to observe his or her weekly Sabbath, although there have been some.
One recognized exception would be if the employer was looking to hire a person specifically to work on the Sabbath day.So if, for example, an employee requests that he or she not be required to work with members of the opposite gender, that request need not be accommodated in a Canadian workplace since it would affect the equality rights of other employees.Other issues may arise that relate to religious freedom in the workplace.However, the legal question has been whether employers are required to pay for these observances.The short answer, for the most part is “no.” If employers provide “discretionary days off” or “personal days” or most other types of paid days, employees are permitted to use these days, as paid days off, to observe holy days.I will be speaking about this issue at the Law Society’s Annual Six Minute Employment Lawyer Conference on June 13, 2013.