Case studies: Religious beliefs

Area: Employment
Ground: Religious beliefs
Result: Resolved voluntarily at the investigation stage
A woman, who was employed as a sales clerk at a food store, stated that her employer subjected her to ongoing harassment by asking her to take particular religious courses and join a church. She filed a complaint, alleging discrimination on the grounds of religious beliefs in the area of employment. The investigation found merit to the complaint.

Area: Employment
Ground: Religious beliefs
Result: Resolved voluntarily at the investigation stage

A First Nations woman complained that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her native spirituality when, among other things, her employer asked her to remove from her office some artifacts that she needed to practice and teach native spirituality to her clients. The woman also complained that she overheard non-aboriginal staff making disrespectful remarks about an upcoming sweat lodge ceremony.

The respondent's policy was to ban any articles that could be used as potential weapons, or that would provide temptation for theft.  When the respondent advised the complainant of the need to adhere to the policy, the complainant chose to quit her job. When the respondent tried to resolve the conflict with her after her departure, the complainant would not discuss a resolution.

Conciliation of this complaint was not successful, and an investigation was done.  The investigation determined that the respondent's policy was reasonable and justifiable, and that it was equally enforced with all employees regardless of their spiritual beliefs or religious practices.  But the investigation also corroborated that insensitive and disrespectful remarks, and attempts at "humour" by some staff and clients regarding the practice of native Spirituality were not unusual or uncommon.  It was therefore concluded that education of staff and clients was called for, and implementation of an awareness-raising program was recommended.  The respondent agreed to implement a cross-cultural training program to educate their staff and clients on the nature of native spirituality and the need for respectful conduct to be show towards it practitioners.  The complaint was settled at the investigation stage and the file was closed.

For more information on discrimination and religious beliefs, see:

Revised: December 14, 2011

 

 


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