When an individual’s religious beliefs conflicts 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.
The Commission’s policy on Creed and the Accommodation of Religious Observances can be viewed here.
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.
Rights and duties:
Both the people responsible for providing the accommodation and the person requesting it have rights and responsibilities during accommodation. We list some of these below by way of example:
Person requesting: Take the initiative to request accommodation
Person responsible: Respect the dignity of the person seeking accommodation
Person requesting: Explain why accommodation is required
Person responsible: Assess the need for accommodation based on the needs of the group of which the person is a member.
Person requesting: Provide notice request in writing, and allow a reasonable time for reply
Person responsible: Reply to the request within a reasonable time
Person requesting: Explain what measures of accommodation are required
Person responsible: Grant requests related to the observance of religious practices
Person requesting: Deal in good faith
Person responsible: Deal in good faith
Person requesting: Be flexible and realistic
Person responsible: Consider alternatives
Person requesting: The individual may request details of the cost of accommodation if undue hardship may be a factor
Person responsible: If accommodation is not possible because of undue hardship, explain this clearly to the person concerned and be prepared to demonstrate why this is so.
Sometimes, it may not be possible completely to resolve the conflict without causing undue hardship to the person responsible for providing the accommodation. A measure of accommodation may be acceptable if 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.
Students are encouraged to submit their request for accommodations within two (2) weeks of the start of classes, or, for final exams or midterms within five (5) days of the posting of the schedule. For all other religious based accommodations, requests are to be submitted five (5) days prior to the holy day or observance.