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Human rights

Religion : prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment | CDPDJ

Religion

Religion

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You believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment based on this ground?

Religion is a prohibited ground of discrimination and harassment. This means that you cannot be treated differently because of your religion or beliefs, or because you have no religion. Also, you cannot be the target of offensive and repeated remarks or behaviour because of your religion. These situations are contrary to the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window..

No one may impose their religious beliefs on others.

However, it should be noted that religious organizations may have the right to prefer hiring a candidate because of his or her religion.​

Fatima, a Muslim, requested a day off for a religious holiday. Her employer refused saying that he feared that all the other employees would also ask for time off claiming they wanted to observe a religious holiday.

 

Harinder is a practicing Sikh who wears a turban. He was just hired by a large fast-food chain. His supervisor insists that he replace his turban with cap which is part of the chain’s uniform.

 

The following judgments are examples related to this ground of discrimination. The complete list of judgments issued by Canadian Courts are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s website This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.. You can do a search by grounds of discrimination.

  • Mouvement laïque québécois c. Saguenay (Ville) (2015) Cet hyperlien vous mène vers un site externe dans une nouvelle fenêtre.
    La Cour du suprême du Canada ordonne à la Ville de Saguenay et à son maire Jean Tremblay de cesser la récitation de la prière dans les salles de délibérations du conseil municipal et à verser au plaignant des dommages-intérêts compensatoires et punitifs de 30 000 $ parce qu’ils contreviennent à l’obligation de neutralité qui incombe à l’État. La récitation de la prière dans ce contexte compromet le droit à l’exercice, en pleine égalité, de la liberté de conscience et de religion.

  • Syndicat North Crest c. Amselem (2004) This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.
    The co-owners’ association was obligated to permit Jewish owners to put up “succahs” (vegetation-covered temporary shelters) on their balcony during a Jewish holiday.

  • S.L. c. Commission scolaire des Chênes (2012) This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.
    The Supreme Court found the Québec Ministry of Education ethics and religious culture courses do not infringe on the freedom of religion of Catholic children and their parents.

  • CDPDJ (Danielle Payette) c. Ville de Laval (2006) This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.
    An atheist woman objected to the fact that the City of Laval started each municipal council public meeting with a prayer. The Tribunal ordered the City to put an end to the prayer.

  • CDP (Darquise Bédard) c. Les Autobus Legault inc. (1994) This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window. (in French only)
    A bus company had to pay $2,000 to an employee, a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, for firing her on the grounds that she could not work Fridays after sunset because of her religion. The company had not considered any accommodation so that the complainant could exercise her right to full and equal access to work.

Here are some of our publications related to this ground of discrimination. You can find all our publications on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Publications' page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Here are some news releases published by the Commission over the years. You can find all our news releases on this ground of discrimination using a keyword on the Media room’s page.

English language translations are provided when available.

Please note: These answers are to be used for information purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice.

  1. Can I be asked what my religion is during a job interview?

    No. Questions regarding religion cannot be asked during a job interview. If a person’s religious practices make it difficult for him or her to comply with a work schedule, the employer must try to accommodate the employee by adjusting the schedule, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. However, the question of reasonable accommodation based on religious considerations, cannot be raised before the person has been hired.

  2. People working in schools or as public officials are not allowed to wear religious symbols because they have the obligation to be neutral. Is this true?

    No. It is true that the government has the obligation of religious neutrality which prohibits it from favouring any religion over another. This neutrality does not prevent one of its employees from wearing a religious symbol. For example, a teacher may wear a religious symbol, such as the hijab (Islamic headscarf),all the while adopting a neutral attitude in her behaviour or words. However, she cannot impose her religious convictions on her students.

  3. As an employer, I refuse to grant my employees’ requests for leave of absence for religious reasons. I fear that my business will suffer if everyone starts requesting time off. Am I right?

    No, employers cannot refuse religious leave requests because they fear it will trigger a flood of requests. Each request must be assessed individually, taking undue hardship into account, particularly by analyzing the financial costs and the impact it will have on the organization of the business.

  4. Are there cases in which it is permitted to require that a candidate be of a specific religion?

    Yes, in some cases, the Charter allows employers to require employees to practice a certain religion. In order to do so, a) the employer must be a charitable, philanthropic, religious, educational or political non-profit organization, and b) this religion must be required to perform the work. For example, an association of young Catholics could require that its spokesperson be of Catholic faith. On the other hand, the association could not require that the accountant be a Catholic.

  5. At work, my supervisor never stops making unpleasant remarks because I am not a believer like he is. He tells me that if I were a believer, I would have more chances of being promoted. Do I have to put up with these comments?

    No one has the right to harass another person because of their religion or because they do not practice it. Employers also are responsible for providing employees with a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment.

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The following video is in American Sign Language (ASL) and is not accessible with a screen reader.

This video presents the topic of religion in American Sign Language (ASL)  This link will redirect you to an external website which may present barriers to accessibility..

 

Did you know?

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse provides an advisory service regarding reasonable accommodation for managers, decision-makers and union leaders. Also see the virtual guide (in French only) on handling a request for an accommodation.

 

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