Accommodating religious beliefs and practices in the workplace canada
At correctional institutions in Ontario, for example, the newer facilities, which house the majority of inmates, now have cells equipped for people with disabilities, says Brent Ross, spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.Inmates’ religious beliefs are also looked after through interfaith chapels, aboriginal programming and worship areas, he said in an email.Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.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.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.In that case, a male Muslim student's request not to work with women sparked controversy.But one element of that story that was often lost, she observes, is that "when there was a little push put on him, he said ' Of course I will work with women.'" There are times, she says, "when Canadian values say if you're going to be in public life, in some way, you need to be able to interact with men and women." The question that might be addressed in the airport instance, she suggests, is "Is it contrary to Canadian public policy to allow men to avoid talking to a government official simply because they're women, and I don't think the answer to that question is obvious." Busby said she thinks it is important for Canada to have provisions for religious accommodation.
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.
Case In Point The Muslim faith requires five daily prayers at specific times of the day, such as pre-dawn and sunset.
Ariens Company, a manufacturer of lawn mowers and snowblowers, previously had allowed 53 Somali immigrant Muslim production workers to leave their work stations to pray at times required by their faith.
In recent months, however, Ariens decided not to accommodate special prayer breaks, requiring instead that workers only leave their assembly-line positions during their two 10-minute breaks per shift.
Although Ariens provides prayer rooms that the Muslim employees may use for their daily prayers, it says it costs too much in lost productivity to shut down an assembly line for unscheduled prayer breaks.
Accommodations can also be made for a person to have a photo taken in a room with only women present.