Religious organization can’t discriminate against employees: Tribunal

Care provider doesn’t restrict its services to those of its faith, so it can’t discriminate against gay employee: Human rights tribunal
By Jeffrey R. Smith
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/09/2008

Religious organizations can’t demand workers to adhere to faith-based values as part of their jobs if they don’t do the same for clients, according to a ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Christian Horizons runs residential homes across Ontario, providing care and support for people with developmental disabilities. Though it considers itself an evangelical Christian ministry, it receives nearly all of its funding, $75 million annually, from the Ontario government.

In 1992, Christian Horizons fired two employees because they were living in common-law relationships, which were against the organization’s values. It subsequently lost a human rights complaint when the board found the organization didn’t qualify for a special employment exemption from the Human Rights Code because it didn’t clearly communicate its standards to employees.