Steps to Take When You’re Fired

No one likes the word “fired.”  It seems to somehow connote an “at fault” dismissal.  But realistically, under Canadian law, whether you have been downsized, restructured, dismissed, let go or “rightsized,” it all really adds up to the same thing.  Your employment has been terminated and you will no longer be working for your employer.  Here is a list of some things to consider if you are in that position:

1.  Remain Calm and Professional

This is one of the hardest things for many people. That is quite understandable, particularly if the termination has been handled poorly or is a bad faith termination.  For many dismissed employees, it will simply be a short meeting with the boss and an HR representative, or perhaps, just your supervisor.  Often, these meetings are very short and little is said.  Perhaps you are not even provided with a reason for the dismissal other than “the company is making a change.”  In any case, it is rarely helpful to argue or debate the issue.  It is almost always an irreversible decision and you will now have to move forward in the best way possible.  You should avoid the urge to do anything rash or impulsive.  Nasty emails sent around to company personnel or clients are almost never helpful, although a short and sweet goodbye note may sometimes be appropriate, if acceptable to the employer.

2.  Review the Termination Letter But Don’t Sign

Dismissals in Canada will generally be “with cause” or “without cause.”  If you are being dismissed “with cause,” you may not be offered a severance package.  If you are offered one, it may be one that is greatly reduced as compared to what you might have been entitled to receive in a without cause situation.  If the dismissal is “for cause,” it may be helpful to try to ask questions at the dismissal meeting about the allegations that are being made, the basis for the allegations and other related questions.

If the dismissal is “without cause,”  you will almost certainly be provided with a severance package.  In most cases, the employer will ask you to sign a release or some other agreement accepting the package.  You should never sign this type of document immediately.  You may well be entitled to significantly more than you are being offered by the employer.  If the termination letter references an “employment contract” that you signed when you first started, you should ask for a copy of it if you do not have ready access to it.   The employment contract may well set out the employer’s severance obligations and you may or may not be able to challenge this type of contract.  If you can’t find it, you may want to get a copy from HR, especially if it is referenced in your termination letter.

Whether a dismissal is for “cause” or “without cause,” it can still be considered a wrongful dismissal if you have not been given full proper compensation.

3.  Avoid Publicizing Immediately and Help Yourself

Although it might be tempting to immediately announce your departure on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media, you should tread carefully.  It is usually not helpful to begin telling everyone immediately that you have been fired.  Consider contacting some close former colleagues or supervisors who may be prepared to provide you with a helpful reference or ideas about suitable job openings.  Consider some other contacts who may have ideas about the types of positions that would best suit you going forward.  Of course if there are people close to you, a spouse or partner, close friends, parents or others, it can be very helpful to share everything with these people, discuss your feelings and emotions and get support.  If you feel that your health has been affected, you should not hesitate to speak with your physician or, if appropriate, other health care providers such as a psychologist or psychotherapist.  Some people may find comfort in confiding in clergy, many of whom can be very empathetic.  Others may find it helpful to ramp up an exercise routine.  Whatever works best for you, take steps to keep yourself on a solid emotional footing.

4.  Meet With a Lawyer

Whether you have been dismissed for cause or without cause, this is still important.

If your dismissal is for cause, this may be something that you can challenge.  You may be entitled to significant compensation, even though the employer has claimed that it has “just cause.”  The law in Canada is quite favourable to employees.  It is very difficult for employers to succeed with a just cause defence, particularly if the defence is based solely on poor performance.

If your dismissal is “without cause,” you may well be entitled to significantly more than the employer has offered.  Have a look at what is included in the severance package.  There may be items missing such as bonus, benefits, outplacement or the severance may simply be too low.

Most employment lawyers will charge a consultation fee for this type of review.  The fee is tax deductible and often employers will pay it.  This advice may be quite valuable.  After a proper review, if you are advised that everything is in order and the package is reasonable, this may be money well spent.  Some lawyers offering a “free consultation” will avoid providing detailed advice and will try to get you to commit to providing a large deposit without really providing a proper assessment of what you should expect.  With a proper legal consultation, you should leave the meeting with a good sense of the likely range of improvement in your package if you proceed, the anticipated legal fees and an understanding of relevant legal issues.  You should not commit to anything other than a reasonable initial consultation fee for a first meeting with a lawyer.

If you had a non-competition or non-solicitation agreement in place with your former employer, this is also something that should be reviewed with legal counsel so that you can understand your rights and obligations going forward.

5.  Outplacement and a Resume

If your severance package includes outplacement assistance, you should verify whether or not it is being provided unconditionally.  If so, you should get in touch with the outplacement provider early on in the process.  Don’t hesitate to ask questions.  Will the meetings be confidential?  Will the outplacement provider be reporting back to the employer?  Does the outplacement provider have experience in your field?  If you are not satisfied with the answers, you should consider asking the employer to permit you to use a provider of your choice.  If the outplacement assistance is only being provided conditional on a signed release, you should discuss the best strategy with your legal counsel.

6.  Employment Insurance

In most cases, you should contact HRDC to file for Employment Insurance as soon as possible.  Even if you have been dismissed for misconduct or other “just cause,” you may still be entitled to EI.  Sometimes you may have to go through an appeal process to ensure your entitlement.  If you are being provided with severance, you may not receive any EI payments until two weeks after all of the severance payments have been paid.  Nevertheless, you should still register early.

7.  Health, Dental and Insurance

Your severance package may continue benefits for some period of time.  You should make sure that you and/or your family members, if applicable, are up to date with dental care, health prescriptions, eye glasses, and other items that may be covered by your extended dental plan.  If your life and/or disability insurance coverage are going to be terminated, you should consider getting quotes as quickly as possible.  In some cases, you may have 30 days to convert over your life insurance policy from a group policy to an individual policy.  This may be important if your medical tests are problematic.

8.  Be Forward Looking

Being dismissed is never easy.  This will usually involve a significant life change as you will now have to shift careers.  But most people go through this transition successfully.   You will need to do your best to stay positive, consider the types of roles that you envision yourself in and put together a personal transition plan.  You should make sure that your resume is professional, free of any errors, and eye catching.  When attending job interviews, you should remain positive and avoid bad mouthing your previous employer or boss.  You should consider dealing with the that fact that you were dismissed upfront and summarily.  Honesty will almost always be the best policy even though that does not mean telling potential employers about all of your weaknesses.

9.  Keep Track of Efforts

It will be helpful and often legally required for you to track your job search efforts.  Put together a spread sheet listing all activities. This should include formal and informal contacts.  Include lunch meetings, phone calls and discussions with friends, colleagues and former co-workers.  Track dates, people contacted, positions applied for, interviews and outcomes.  Keep this file up to date.  It may be important in proving “mitigation” if your severance entitlement has not been resolved quickly.  Or it may be required for EI purposes.  It will also be a useful part of tracking your personal progress.

10.  Carefully Consider any New Contract

When you have been offered a new position, you may well be given an offer letter or employment contract.  Don’t assume that the contact is a standard form or that it is non-negotiable even though you may really want to take the position and move on.  The proposed employment contract may limit or reduce your legal rights significantly.  Make sure you understand all of its terms properly.  You might consider having it reviewed by an employment lawyer.

These are some of the key points to consider. Certainly there are many career transition books that are quite helpful.  People often recommend What Color is Your Parachute?  Another favourite, on a lighter note, is Dr. Suess’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go.”  

There are also numerous job search websites and resources of every kind available on the internet.  Brush up your linked in profile with details of your work, references and endorsements.  Try to remain positive.  For many people, a dismissal may well lead to opportunities or new situations that might even be better for you that the role you have just left.


Accommodating Religion: In the Canadian HR Reporter

A sneak preview link to my upcoming article in the Canadian HR Reporter.  The article is a discussion of the issue of religious practices in Canada in an employment context.

Accommodating religion – Canadian HR Reporter


Limits of Religious Accommodation in the Workplace

What are the limits of religious accommodation in Canada?  Is an employer required to accommodate a request by an employee not to work with an employee of the opposite gender, for religious reasons?

This topic has been generating a great deal of publicity lately in light of recent events at York University.  The National Post reported that the university is continuing to stand by its decision to accommodate the request of a male student to refuse to conduct group work with women, for religious reasons.  (See Tristin Hopper, January 9, 2014).

From the details that have been provided, Professor Paul Grayson received a request from a student in an on-line course to be exempt from a group work project because it would have involved intermingling with members of the opposite gender.  The student raised religious grounds as the basis for the requested accommodation.  The professor opposed the request but sought further clarification form the university.   The Dean’s office and the University’s Centre for Human Rights both took the position that this type of request should be accommodated.

Should Canadian universities and Canadian employers be accommodating this type of request?  Are they required to do so?  Are they permitted to do so?  What are the limits of accommodation of religious practice?

On the one hand, the Canadian Charter and human rights legislation across the country protect religious freedom.  Canadian courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently recognized that religious practices and requirements must be recognized in a multicultural society to enable Canadians of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds to fully participate in Canadian society.  Our courts have recognized the right of Canadians to wear turbans, kippahs, hijabs and other religious clothing.  Our courts have also provided protection for those who cannot work on certain days for religious reasons and to those who require breaks at certain times during the day for prayer purposes.  In all of these types of cases, the only question has been whether the accommodation will cause “undue hardship.”  In most of these cases, it will not.

But what happens when a requested religious practice or accommodation clashes with the rights of other people?  What happens where the religious right that is to be accommodated will infringe on the fundamental rights of another person, for example the right to gender equality?

There are very few cases to date which have addressed these issues although we are likely to see an increasing number of them over time.  In my view, employers, universities and other institutions must reject requests for religious accommodation if the accommodation will infringe on someone else’s fundamental right.

It is worthwhile mentioning a few cases that have discussed some of the relevant principles:

1.  In the case of Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. William Whatcott, the Supreme Court upheld certain hate speech restrictions.  The Court expressly noted that religious freedom cannot be used as a basis for justifying hate speech against gay people.

2.  In the Saskatchewan Marriage Commissioners Reference, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal rejected the argument that the Province must accommodate the religious beliefs of those who would refuse to perform same-sex marriages, while working as marriage commissioners.  The Court of Appeal noted that employees of the Province would be required to serve the public in accordance with existing provincial law.  This decision related to City Hall marriages – or other marriages that were performed by the Province rather than in a religious institution.

3.  In R. v. N.S., a 2012 decision of the Supreme Court, the Court determined that a witness could be required to remove a niqab when testifying in Court in certain circumstances.  The Court highlighted the importance of accommodation of religious practices and discussed the development of this right since the Charter.  But the Court also accepted the principle that there is no “hierarchy of rights” under the Charter,
and sought to protect the rights of an accused to a fair trial.

Looking at some of these important cases that have been decided to date, we can see that Canadian courts will not allow individuals seeking accommodation of a religious practice to undermine the rights of others to an equally important fundamental right.

Imagine an employee of a retail establishment claiming that he or she could not serve employees of a certain ethnicity or religious background.  Would an employer be required to accommodate that request?  “I can’t serve Blacks, Jews or Gays because of my religious beliefs,” says the hypothetical employee.  Surely, employers could not be expected to accommodate this type of request, even if the employee could show that he or she sincerely believed that the requested accommodation was religiously required.  In fact, to do so, would be to violate human rights legislation.  The customer of the retail establishment, if refused service, could assert a breach of the Human Rights Code.

Gender equality must be put in this category as an equally significant and protected right.  Freedom of equality is protected by the Charter.   For someone to argue that he or she cannot work for a boss of the opposite gender, must work only with members of their own gender, cannot be the boss of someone of the opposite gender, or cannot study with someone of the opposite gender would violate the rights of other people to freedom from discrimination.  This is where courts, human rights tribunals and arbitrators must draw the line.

Freedom of religion should be accommodated widely to the point of undue hardship.  This must be the case in a multicultural country.  But Canadians cannot accept that the law requires or even permits people to use freedom of religion to trump the fundamental rights of others, whether at a university or place of employment.

Key Employment Law Cases of 2013

I have put together a collection of some key employment law cases for 2013.  2013 was an interesting year for employment law, though I would be hard pressed to say that most of these cases are particularly earth-shattering.  Nevertheless, this summary should help provide a flavour for some key developments.

For each case, I have included the link to the actual decision (if easily available) as well as a link to my blog article about the decision, if I had prepared one.

As an added bonus, I have highlighted a few of my selected blog entries from 2013 at the end of the list.

1.  Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd.

Blog post – here.

The Supreme Court of Canada struck out a universal workplace alcohol and drug testing policy.  Although this decision was in a unionized context, it nevertheless demonstrates that universal alcohol and drug testing policies in Canada are unlikely to pass judicial scrutiny.  This is certainly a helpful precedent for employee workplace privacy.

2.  IBM Canada v. Waterman

The Supreme Court of Canada held that pension benefits that are payable to a dismissed employee should not be deductible by an employer against wrongful dismissal damages that might otherwise be owing.  This does not seem to be such a controversial decision even though there was a dissenting court opinion.  Certainly, I cannot recall seeing an employer insist on deducting pension benefits as an offset against dismissal damages owing.  Nevertheless, the case made its way all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which clarified the law.

3.  Payette v. Guay Inc.

Blog post – here.

The Supreme Court of Canada enforced a five year non-competition clause in a commercial context.  The case is significant because it shows that Canadian courts are willing to take a much different approach to non-competition clauses in commercial cases, as opposed to pure employment cases.  Business owners who sell their businesses or other intellectual property will generally be expected to honour the terms of a non-competition agreement, even after a lengthy period of employment with the purchaser.

4. Pate Estate v. Galway Cavendish and Harvey (Township)

Blog post – here.

The Ontario Court of Appeal reduced a punitive damages award from $550,000 to $450,000 for malicious prosecution in a wrongful dismissal case.  This is one of the largest punitive damages awards in Ontario in this type of case.  Although the facts were quite extreme, this is still a huge award by Canadian standards.  Here, The township was found to have deliberately withheld key exculpatory evidence while pushing to have the plaintiff charged criminally.  The plaintiff was ultimately forced to go through a criminal trial and was fully exonerated.  The behaviour of the Township was considered reprehensible and monetary damages were awarded accordingly.  Unfortunately for Mr. Pate, he passed away before the Ontario Court of Appeal decision was released.

5.  Johnstone v. AG (Canada)

Blog post – here

The Federal Court of Canada upheld an arbitrator’s conclusion that the definition of “family status” for purposes of human rights protection includes child care responsibilities.  A border services officer was held to be entitled to accommodation in the workplace for her child care challenges.  The case has attracted a great deal of discussion over the definition of family  status and the extent of requred accommodation.

6.  Alberta (Information and Privacy Commissioner) v. United Food and Commercial Workers

The Supreme Court  of Canada invalidated the Alberta Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) in the context of a labour dispute in which a union claimed the legal right to record pictures and videos of individuals crossing a picket line during a lawful strike.  The Supreme Court highlighted  the importance of freedom of expression even as it cautioned that the right is not absolute.

7.  General Motors of Canada v. Johnson

Blog post – here

The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a lower court finding of constructive dismissal on the basis of a poisoned work environment.  The case demonstrates how difficult it is to prove the existence of a “poisoned work environment.”  It also shows how challenging it can be to advance claims of racism in a workplace.

8.  Wilson v. Solace Mexican Foods

An Ontario Superior Court awarded damages for violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code in the context of a wrongful dismissal case.  This was the first case to award such damages in Ontario since the Code was amended in 2008.  The case has demonstrated that plaintiffs can claim a broad range of damages in wrongful dismissal cases in Ontario.  If the facts warrant it, dismissed employees can use the court process to obtain damages for human rights violations.

9.  Fair v. Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal reinstated an employee back into her position more than eight and a half years after she had been dismissed.  Significantly, the Tribunal awarded full back pay for the entire time that the employee had been off work – more than $400,000.  The decision demonstrates that reinstatement, coupled with back pay, can be the most powerful remedy available to a dismissed employee where there has been a violation of human right legislation.

10.  The Globe and Mail v. Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada

Blog post – here.

Former Globe and Mail reporter Jan Wong was ordered by an arbitrator to pay back the proceeds of her grievance settlement for having breached the terms of a confidential agreement that was signed as part of the settlement.  The case is a rare example of an ajudicative body actually enforcing a confidentiality agreement, with extremely harsh consequences for the employee.  Dismissed employees will see this as a clear warning to refrain from disclosing any information whatsoever about their wrongful dismissal settlements.

2013 Blog Posts – Selected Highlights

Aside from these 10 court decisions, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a few Joblaw blogs from 2013:

1.  Employment Law Issues in Bawdy Houses:

I squeezed this one in under the wire in 2013, following the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Canada’s prostitution laws.

2.  Quitting Your Job in Style?  Think Carefully.

I couldn’t resist a blog about quitting after the employee-made quit video that went viral on youtube in 2013.

3.  Should Employees Have Faith in Workplace Accommodation of Religion?

I reviewed a number of issues relating to workplace accomodation of religious requirements in this post.

4.  Ontario Divisional Court Overturns Whacky Arbitration Decison

This blog is a discussion of an Ontario Divisional Court decision involving a dismissed crown empoyee who was found to have committed some indecent acts.

5.  Signing an Employment Contract in Canada?  Points to Consider

A review of some key considerations when looking over a Canadian employment contract.

Supreme Court Strikes Drug and Alcohol Testing

Is random drug and alcohol testing legal in Canadian workplaces?  There still may not be an absolutely clear answer to that question but the Supreme Court of Canada has restored an arbitrator’s decision in a unionized workplace that a universal random testing regime was an affront to the dignity and privacy of employees.  It held that there was insufficent evidence of enhanced safety risks to justify the policy.  The fact that the workplace was dangerous did not, in itself, give the employer a carte blanche to impose the policy unilaterally.

In Communications, Energy and Paperworkers of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd., the Supreme Court reviewed a case that had started as a grievance filed by a teetotalling employee, who had not had a drink in 30 years.  The grievance had been filed to challenge a policy of mandatory drug and alcohol testing that the employer had unilaterally imposed.  At the grievance arbitration, the arbitrators noted that there had been 8 incidents of alcohol consumption or impairment over a 15 year period.  None of these incidents had led to accidents, near misses, or injuries.  The arbitrators concluded that the harm to employee privacy and dignity substantially outweighed the safety-risk justification of upholding the policy.    The Supreme Court ultimately agreed, overturning decisions of two levels of New Brunswick courts, which had reversed the arbitrators’ decision.

The majority had this to say about the standard for testing:

“the dangerousness of a workplace — whether described as dangerous, inherently dangerous, or highly safety sensitive — is, while clearly and highly relevant, only the beginning of the inquiry.  It has never been found to be an automatic justification for the unilateral imposition of unfettered random testing with disciplinary consequences. What has been additionally required is evidence of enhanced safety risks, such as evidence of a general problem with substance abuse in the workplace.”

The 3-judge minority of the Court issued a blistering dissent in which it argued that the arbitrator’s decision was outside of the range of reasonable outcomes and had been properly reversed by the New Brunswick courts.  The minority would have found that there had been sufficient evidence of safety risk to justify the unilateral imposition of a universal drug and alcohol testing policy.  In its view, there was sufficient evidence of safety considerations to outweigh the incursion into employee privacy rights.

The case is considered relevant and applicable, primarily, to unionized workplaces.  But the impact may be very significant, across a range of workplaces.  In unionized workplaces, the Supreme Court has made it clear that employers will need to meet a high threshhold to justify the unilateral imposition of a universal testing policy.  In non-unionized workplaces, the Court’s decision may well wind up having an impact.  Human rights tribunals across Canada and Canadian Courts will be required to take notice of the Supreme Court’s assessment of the importance of employee privacy and dignity in Canadian workplaces.

While it is too early to assess the extent of the impact this will have, it seems likely to help the cause of employee privacy rights across Canada in many different contexts.



Should Canadian Employees Have Faith in Workplace Accommodation of Religion?

Canadian employers are required to accommodate the needs of religious employees in the workplace.  This requirement can extend to a number of different issues including weekly Sabbath Observance, religious holy days, daily prayer breaks, religious dress and, sometimes, disputes relating to employer requirements.  I will be speaking about this issue at the Law Society’s Annual Six Minute Employment Lawyer Conference on June 13, 2013.

This is a short list of a few of the main topics that I will be covering and some of the key points:

1.  Workplace  Accommodation: Sabbath Observance:  Many Canadian employees of different faiths observe a weekly Sabbath.  Since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) came in effect in 1985, the Canadian Supreme Court has, on a number of occasions, recognized the importance of accommodating minority religious requirements, including a weekly Sabbath.  Canadian employers are required to accommodate the Sabbath observance of their employees by permitting employees to take the day off unless doing so would create “undue hardship” for employers.  In unionized workplaces, unions are also responsible for cooperating with this duty to accommodate these needs.  There are very few cases in which Canadian courts, tribunals or arbitrators have actually found that it would create “undue hardship” to permit an employee to observe his or her weekly Sabbath, although there have been some.  One recognized exception would be if the employer was looking to hire a person specifically to work on the Sabbath day.  Another would be if work on the Sabbath could be shown to be an essential requirement of the position.  For the most part, however, even small workplaces have been required to permit employees to observe their weekly Sabbath breaks.

2.  Workplace Accommodation: Religious Holy Days:  As with weekly Sabbath observance, Canadian employers have also been required to permit employees to take time off to celebrate or observe religious holy days, subject to “undue hardship.”  This may include a significant number of days in a calendar year.  However, the legal question has been whether employers are required to pay for these observances.  The short answer, for the most part is “no.”  If employers provide “discretionary days off” or “personal days” or most other types of paid days, employees are permitted to use these days, as paid days off, to observe holy days.  Employees are not required, and cannot be required, by their employers to use up paid vacation time for these days. Moreover, if there is a way to make up the days through scheduling time, extra hours, or time shifting, employers are required to permit their employees to use these methods.   Many employers do provide two or three paid annual “personal” or “discretionary” days which employees can use for these purposes.  But, in most cases, employers are not required to pay for religious holy days even though they must permit employees to observe these days by not attending at work.   If employees elect not to use their vacation time for these observances, they can take unpaid holy day time – or try to make up the time otherwise.

3.  Workplace Accommodation: Daily Prayer Breaks: There are fewer cases involving daily prayer breaks.  However, Canadian law recognizes that employers must accommodate these requirements to the point of undue hardship.  Employers may put rules into place to ensure that a workplace or a post is not left vacant while an employee takes a prayer break.  For example, a system of notifying a superior, obtaining approval or “signing out” at the required time may be reasonable.  Employers are not necessarily required to pay for this prayer break time and can ask employees to work extra time to make up this break time – unless the employees are simply using break time that is otherwise available to all employers.  Employers are not necessarily required to provide designated prayer areas, though if this is something that can be arranged, it may be preferable over having the employees leave the workplace.

4.  Workplace Accommodation: Religious Dress: Canadian employers are required to permit their employees to wear various forms of religious dress unless doing so would create undue hardship (which usually means safety concerns in this area).  Thus employees may wear turbans, kippahs (yarmulkes), hijabs, crosses, kirpans and other forms of religiously required headgear or attire to work.  Employers, in most cases, cannot require employees to shave their beards or other facial hair that is grown for religious purposes.  Clothing that is not religiously required but is a cultural practice may be permitted as well, though this may be open to question.  Clothing worn for religious or cultural reasons which completely covers a person’s face such as a niqab or a burka may also create issues if the employee works, for example, in a customer service environment.  Employers may argue that it is an essential requirement of the position that the employee’s face be visible while working.  It is unclear how courts and tribunals will decide these cases.  In 2012, the Supreme Court determined that women who wear niqabs may be required to remove them when testifying in court in some circumstances.  However, this has not yet been applied to workplaces.

4.  Workplace Accommodation: Employer Requirements:  If employees are asked to do something that would violate their religious beliefs, practices or customs, they may be able to get an exemption from these requirements for religious reasons.  The test would be whether the issue can be accommodated without creating undue hardship.  In one case, for example, some 407 employees refused to participate in a new security system that involved biometric hand scans, for fear of having the “Mark of the Beast” imprinted on their hands.  An arbitrator accepted this argument and exempted the employees from the biometric hand scan program, finding that this was something that could be accommodated.  Employers are not required, however, to accommodate religious requirements that would affect the human rights of other employees.  So if, for example, an employee requests that he or she not be required to work with members of the opposite gender, that request need not be accommodated in a Canadian workplace since it would affect the equality rights of other employees.

Other issues may arise that relate to religious freedom in the workplace.  The Supreme Court of Canada has established that employees seeking any of these accommodations for religious purposes are not required to prove that they are religiously required by a particular religion or religious leader to observe such practices.  Rather, they need only prove that they are sincere in their belief and observance of a particular practice.  In other words, employees must show that they believes that they are required to observe a particular practice and actually follow it, sincerely.  If this can be demonstrated, Canadian employers are required, in most cases, to accommodate the practice to the point of undue hardship.

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