Hicks Morely on what CEOs must do to accommodate religious observances
With so many private company entrepreneurs being unable to afford much in the way of excellent legal advice when it comes to the specialty of labour law, here is a short summary of a note put out by Hicks Morley LLP on a topic every employer faces:
“RELIGIOUS ACCOMMODATION: TRIBUNAL FINDS TWO PAID DAYS OF RELIGIOUS LEAVE NOT REQUIRED
On September 3, 2008, Vice-Chair Sherry Liang of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario issued a very helpful decision in Markovic v. Autocom Manufacturing Ltd., 2008 HRTO 64 (argued by Chris Riggs and Catherine Peters of Hicks Morley).
The Autocom decision provides some much-needed clarification concerning the accommodation of religious observances. Of particular interest, the Tribunal rejected the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s long-held policy position that employers must provide employees who are members of non-Western Christian religions with at least two days of paid religious leave to parallel the statutory holidays on Christmas and Good Friday. Rather, the Tribunal held that Autocom could meet its obligations to accommodate the religious observances of its employees by implementing a religious accommodation policy which provides for a menu of options – including scheduling options – and need not first establish that providing two days of paid leave would constitute undue hardship.
The Autocom case not only provides important clarification of the legal principles surrounding accommodation of religious observances, it is yet another positive signal concerning the evolution of the duty to accommodate generally. The underlying message of the decision – that, where possible, accommodation is to be provided in a manner which leaves the basic employment “bargain” intact – is a powerful message which will no doubt prove helpful to employers in future cases.”