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Queen's University

Religious Accommodation

Do personal beliefs trigger freedom of religion?

In Amselem (2004), the Supreme Court of Canada overturned a lower court's injunction prohibiting five Orthodox Jewish residents from building religious dwellings on their balconies.  In Akiyama (2002), a Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint of religious discrimination filed by a mother whose children had been disqualified from a judo competition for refusing to bow.

What happens when occupational requirements conflict with religious requirements?

In Bhinder (1985), the Supreme Court found that a Railway company had not discriminated against a Sikh employee when it dismissed him for refusing to wear a safety helmet.  Five years later, in Central Alberta Dairy Pool (1990), the Supreme Court repudiated in part its decision in Bhinder, when it found that Central Alberta Dairy Pool had discriminated against an employee, a member of the World Wide Church of God, when it dismissed him for refusing to work on Easter Monday.

At what point does religious accommodation become undue hardship?

In Wilson (1981), an arbitrator found that a hospital should have accommodated a registered nurse, a Jehovah's Witness, who was unlawfully fired for refusing to hang blood in the intensive care unit. In Jones (2001), a tribunal found that a pharmacy should have accommodated a Sikh employee, who was unlawfully dismissed for refusing to set out poinsettias at Christmas time.

What is the role of the union when an employee needs a religious accommodation?

In Renaud (1992) and Robert-Giffard, the Supreme Court, and then a human rights tribunal, ruled that unions and employers are jointly responsible for accommodating employees who can not, for religious reasons, fulfill requirements from the collective agreement. Furthermore, they found that a threat of a union grievance does not constitute undue hardship.

Do newspapers and magazines have the right to expose protected groups to hatred or contempt in the name of religion, or on the basis of religion?

In Hellquist (2001), a Saskatchewan board of inquiry found that a newspaper had discriminated against gay men when it printed an advertisement for homophobic bumper stickers featuring quotes from the Bible. In Kane (2002), an Albertan Human Rights Panel ruled that a business magazine had discriminated against members of a religious group when it printed an article about a failed business deal which contained anti-Semitic jargon.

Do websites have the right to expose a religious group to hatred or contempt?

In Zündel (2003), a Canadian Rights Commission found that Zündelsite exposed members of a religious group to hatred and contempt, and ordered the author, Zündel, to cease and desist from discriminating against Jews. Similarly, in Kyburz (2003), a Canadian Rights Tribunal found that Kyburz, the author of an anti-Semitic web-site, had discriminated against members of a religious group (Jews) and also against an individual who had filed a human rights complaint about the site.

Is the employer responsible for acts of religious discrimination committed by one employee against another?

In Pizza Hut (1999), a B.C. human rights tribunal ruled that Pizza Hut was liable for the threatening and derogatory remarks made by a Bosnian Serb employee to a Bosnian Muslim employee. In a related case, Pillai (2003), a B.C human rights tribunal ruled that Lafarge Canada was liable for the racial and religious slurs made about a South Asian employee.

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