The Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the area of employment based on religious beliefs. The AHR Act states that no individual shall be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs, including native spirituality. Religious beliefs refer to a system of belief, worship and conduct. Religion has been defined as being "about freely and deeply held personal convictions or beliefs connected to an individual's spiritual faith and integrally linked to his or her self-definition and spiritual fulfillment, the practices of which allow individuals to foster a connection with the divine or with the subject or object of that spiritual faith." (Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem (2004), 241 D.L.R. (4th) 1, Supreme Court of Canada)
Employers are required to accommodate employees on the ground of their religious belief to the point of undue hardship. Accommodation may mean modifying a rule or making an exception to all or part of it for the employee concerned. You can read more about the duty to accommodate and undue hardship.
At times, an employee's religious beliefs may conflict with an on-the-job requirement, qualification or practice. Dress codes, work schedules or shift work sometimes adversely affect employees because of the requirements of their religion. For example, when a business is open on Saturday, the employer is required to accommodate employees who are unable to work Saturdays because of it being their Sabbath. In O'Malley v Simpson Sears, the Supreme Court of Canada stated that an employer had to take reasonable steps to accommodate an employee who was unable to work because of religious reasons.
Revised: December 16, 2009
The Alberta Human Rights Commission is an independent commission of the Government of Alberta.
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