The Ontario Human Rights Code (the ‘Code’)
When an individual’s religious beliefs conflict with a requirement, qualification or practice, the Code imposes a duty to accommodate. That duty is based on the needs of the group of which the person making the request is a member. As such, you must look to the accepted religious practices and observances that are part of a given religion or creed. However, personal religious beliefs, practices or observances are protected by the Code even if they are not essential elements of the creed, provided they are sincerely held.
The duty to accommodate is limited to the steps that may be required to accommodate, short of undue hardship. The factors to consider when determining undue hardship are cost, health and/or safety requirements. The concept of undue hardship is a relative one, determined by the number of people making the request, the cost of the request and the size of the institution. The burden for proving undue hardship lies with the person responsible for the accommodation. Note that, in the opinion of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (‘the Commission’), administrative inconvenience will not constitute undue hardship.
To view the Commission’s policy on Creed and the Accommodation of Religious Observances, please contact Equity and Human Rights Services.
The calendar of religious accommodation lists the dates which are commonly recognized as days upon which individuals belonging to the various faiths cannot work. We recognize that there will be dates or faiths not included in the attached calendar. For this reason, we have reproduced below the rights and responsibilities of the person requesting accommodation and the person responsible for providing accommodation according to the Commission. This structure should be followed when an individual makes a request for religious accommodation that is not listed in the calendar.
|Person requesting||Person\organization responsible|
|Take the initiative to request accommodation||Respect the dignity of the person seeking accommodation|
|Explain why accommodation is required||Assess the need for accommodation based on the needs of the group of which the person is a member|
|Provide notice of request in writing, and allow a reasonable time for reply||Reply to the request within a reasonable time|
|Explain what measures of accommodation are required||Grant requests related to the observance of religious practices|
|Deal in good faith||Deal in good faith|
|Be flexible and realistic||Consider alternatives|
|The individual may request details of the cost of accommodation if undue hardship may be a factor||If accommodation is not possible because of undue hardship, explain this clearly to the person concerned and be prepared to demonstrate why|
The Commission does acknowledge that, at times, it may not be possible to completely resolve the conflict without causing undue hardship to the person responsible for providing the accommodation. A measure of accommodation may be acceptable if it meets the needs of the person, to the greatest extent possible, short of undue hardship, and if it respects the dignity of the person requiring the accommodation.
Durham College is committed to recognizing and valuing religious diversity. For further assistance, please feel free to contact the diversity officer at 905.721.2000 ext. 2856.