Canadian HR Reporter

April 4, 2016

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER April 4, 2016 2 NEWS Recent stories posted on Check the website daily for quick news hits from across Canada and around the world. WEB O N T H E ACROSS CANADA SNC Lavalin shedding another 950 positions, including 600 in Canada Follows elimination of 4,000 in 2014 Women outnumber men on Ottawa's influential council of economic advisers Council among most influential groups advising Prime Minister Trudeau Alberta expects to save $35M by streamlining 25 boards, agencies, commissions Review included workers' comp, pension boards Trudeau says budget will commit to returning eligibility for OAS to 65 'Tweaking age like that simplistic solution' Energy, business and labour leaders form new council to help Alberta Looking to build value-added resource sector One-quarter of CFOs expect companies to create new jobs in next 6 months: Survey 82 per cent experiencing recruiting challenges Openly gay former naval officer says he was called 'faggot' and harassed Appearing before Federal Court of Appeal WestJet hires Ernst & Young to review practices after sexual assault suit Airline intends to defend lawsuit in court AROUND THE WORLD China shifts axed miners to lower-paid jobs in farming, cleaning About 6 million jobs to be cut at state-owned coal, steel firms J. Walter ompson CEO quits after being accused of slurs Female subordinate accused him of racist, sexist behaviour Chipotle's social media policy violates U.S. labour laws : Judge Fast-food chain must offer to rehire terminated employee, pay lost wages Greek joblessness may take 20 years to reach pre-crisis rate Unemployment increased to 24.4 per cent in late 2015 Anti-corruption groups press OECD over use of corporate settlements Deals let companies avoid prosecution Gender stereotypes stubbornly unchanged over 30 years: U.S. study Ideas about 'gendered' occupations still persist Updated policy on creed in Ontario sparks queries from interest groups Will changes open floodgates for employee demands? BY LIZ BERNIER THE concept of "creed" made headlines recently after the On- tario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) updated its Policy on Preventing Discrimination Based on Creed to reflect issues such as changes to case law and beliefs that don't fit into the traditional definitions of a religion. e first creed policy was writ- ten in 1996, according to Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner of the OHRC in Toronto. "Ontario has changed a lot in that time. We've seen many peo- ple who are discriminated against based on their religion, especially many allegations of competing rights and also just a more secular society," she said. The commission decided to update the policy in part to have a more inclusive understanding of what's protected under creed, she said. is includes diverse re- ligions, of course, but also indig- enous spirituality as well as athe- ism and other non-religious belief systems. Change with times e update to the policy is impor- tant because as society or social norms evolve, the law has to keep up, said Stuart Rudner, founding partner at Rudner MacDonald in Toronto. "It wasn't that long ago that we were talking about child-care obligations and how that's recog- nized as being part of family status, so that has to be accommodated," he said, adding human rights leg- islation is sometimes amended but, more often than not, it's just reinterpreted or applied in new ways. And the new creed policy reflects that, he said. "is idea of creed has always been understood to mean reli- gion but there's nothing anywhere that says that. And, of course, the policy statement from the human rights commission makes clear that although it often refers to re- ligion, it's not limited to religion," he said. "It's not unlike expanding disability to include medical mar- ijuana; it's not unlike expanding family status to include child-care obligations." But with the updated policy, what groups might qualify — and lead to employees looking for ac- commodation? Animal Justice Canada, for one, has been en- gaged in the dialogue. "In recognition of the fact that we're becoming an increasingly secular society, and people are saying that they are less concerned with religion than in the past, it's appropriate that secular beliefs are taking the place of religion, and we should protect those be- liefs as well if they're important to a person," said Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Jus- tice Canada in Cambridge, Mass. But ethical veganism isn't mentioned in the policy and the OHRC said it does not state one way or the other whether ethical veganism is a creed. "Importantly, the code doesn't define creed and we also don't de- fine creed in the policy, because we think in many ways it has to be a living definition — something that the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario needs to give flesh to," said Mandhane. "The considerations or hall- marks of a creed, in our opinion, are that it's sincerely, freely and deeply held; that it's integrally linked to a person's identity… it's a comprehensive and overarch- ing system of belief that governs one's conduct; that it addresses ultimate questions of human ex- istence, the purpose of life; and has some nexus of connection to an organization or community." Employer impact ere may be human rights cases around non-traditional belief systems, but it hardly means the floodgates will open for employ- ees to claim anything and every- thing as a "creed," said Rudner. "(e OHRC) starts off by say- ing the code doesn't define creed. But they do need to give some cri- teria based on case law," he said. "It can't just be any belief, it has to be integrally linked to the per- son's identity or self-definition, and it's got to be a comprehensive or overarching system of beliefs that governs one's conduct… So it's got to be broader than just a belief, it's got to be something that encompasses all or almost all as- pects of their life." At the same time, the OHRC has made clear that creed is not to be looked at objectively — it's more of a subjective belief that is sincere and deeply held, said Rudner. "I think the point they're trying to make is it's not just a trivial be- lief, it's not just a belief of conve- nience. And I think this has been tested a few times over the years where you have someone who wants accommodations — for example, days off for religious rea- sons — and occasionally employ- ers have challenged the validity (of that)," he said. "It's obviously very difficult because even in a traditional re- ligion, there are varying levels of observance, there are varying levels of interpretation, and if you were to put 10 priests or 10 rabbis in a room and ask them to inter- pret the obligations, you'd prob- ably get 10 different answers." If a belief system checks off all the bullet points in the policy, the tribunal will probably designate it as a creed, said Rudner. "If it's a sincerely held belief and it meets all the other criteria set out in the policy, then likely it will qualify as a creed. And if it does, of course, you're entitled to be free from discrimination and you're entitled to accommodation." Credit: Mario Anzuoni (Reuters) An activist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) promotes a vegan diet in Los Angeles, Calif., in May 2015.

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