Knowledgebase

How can you know if your employee’s religious belief is sincere?

For some of our clients who have implemented mandatory vaccination at the workplace, we created a Request for Accommodation Form. In order to qualify for the exemption, employees are required to fill out the form which includes providing a written and signed statement objecting to immunization due to sincere and genuine religious beliefs which prohibit immunization, in which case supporting documents may be required. It also mentions the employer can request further documentation such as a letter from an authorized representative of the church, temple, religious institution, etc. that you attend. Contact Chris Drinovz if you’d like to implement a Policy and request for accommodation forms.

Recent Relevant Case:
In the one BC Human Rights Tribunal case we summarised here, an employee objected to wearing a mask arguing it was against his religious beliefs to cover his face from God. https://www.ksw.bc.ca/employee-opinion-on-mask-wearing-not-protected/

At para 11, the Tribunal Member set out the reasons for his finding that the complaints set out cannot be a contravention of the Code:

These facts, if proven, could not establish that the Worker’s objection to wearing a mask is “experientially religious in nature”. He has not pointed to any facts that could support a finding that wearing a mask is objectively or subjectively prohibited by any particular religion, or that not wearing a mask “engenders a personal, subjective connection to the divine or the subject or object of [his] spiritual faith”: Amselem at para. 43. Rather, his objection to wearing a mask is his opinion that doing so is “arbitrary” because it does not stop the transmission of COVID‐19.
(…)
The Worker’s opinion that masks are ineffective is not a belief or practice protected from discrimination on the basis of religion. While the Worker states his belief that it dishonours God to cover his face absent a basis for doing so, the Workers’ complaints, in essence, are about his disagreement with the reasons for the mask‐wearing requirement set out in the Orders.

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