The Lynch List, 21-Jul-2010

Here’s your latest update:

First: The Federal Court of Appeal refused to overturn the case of the failed Iranian RCMP police recruit: “You can’t yell at me, I’m a visible minority”. Upon his return to training, do you honestly think that Mr. Tahmourpour will be evaluated fairly with respect to his peers, knowing that the Human Rights Tribunal will be watching closely?

Second: The OHRC’s annual report is out. Basically, it is a back-patting exercise on how the OHRC has been able to twist the arms of various organizations, including the OPP, and single-handedly create a housing shortage by developing and implementing draconian housing policies.

Third: The Human Right to Take a Shower: 5 women in a facility that employs 1,350 are complaining that their locker room doesn’t have a shower – while the men’s locker room does. I guess that’s good enough for a Human Rights complaint.

Fourth: Another good parsing of the Christian Horizons decision. First, the court rebukes the Tribunal:

[First,] the Tribunal read the exemption section narrowly and in such a way as to limit it only to religious projects that served adherents of the particular religion. If a religious project served others who were not members of the religion, even its “guiding minds” could not be required to be religious according to the Tribunal.

Second, and in relation to this holding, the Tribunal had accepted a “public/private” distinction by which religious employers (and other “special employers” by implication) would be held by a different standard with respect to religious activity when they entered “the public.” Both of these findings were of great concern to many religious groups and organizations.

The Divisional Court had little difficulty finding these holdings by the Tribunal to be incorrect and said that this sort of interpretation would be, in fact, an “absurd” result given the important work that religious projects do for those who are not members of their own religion.

But what did the court leave open? A lot of work for lawyers, it seems:

So where does this leave religious employers? The answer is not clear. At the very least an organization will have to show that it has made a searching inquiry of all the job duties of each position in a religious organization to determine whether any conduct and lifestyle restrictions are objectively related to the job duties in question. Religious employers in future will have to be even more careful to explain in documents setting out job duties and explaining the nature of the organization and how from the religious perspective every job relates to the “religious mission” of the organization.

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