The Ontario Human Rights Commission has published a very useful document titled, “Policy on competing human rights.” I recommend that you take a few minutes and review the policy and include it in your workplace human rights policies and training curricula.
Managers attending my training workshops tell me they frequently struggle with the concept of competing human rights. This challenging phenomenon occurs when showing respect for the human rights of one party results in the violation of the legal rights of another party. Here are three examples:
A male client of a bank requests to do business with a male loans officer because his religion forbids him to do business with a woman. The client claims he has a right to be accommodated on the basis of creed. The female employee claims discrimination on the basis of gender in employment.
A clerk of the municipal council objects to the recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer” at the opening of council meetings. The clerk believes this interferes with everyone’s right to religious freedom. Several council members claim they have the right to exercise their religion without interference from others.
An employee who uses a wheelchair occasionally knocks things over and blocks entrances and hallways with the wheelchair. Other workers complain that this poses a safety hazard to them in contravention of occupational health and safety legislation.
The management of these scenarios and staying within the law is no simple task. That’s why I’m recommending that you obtain and read a copy of this policy. The policy is a lengthy document that takes you step by step through the management of a competing rights scenario.
Here are some of the highlights of this very useful document:
- An explanation of competing rights
- Legal principles useful in resolving disputes
- Analyzing competing rights situations
- Several methods for resolving disputes
- Online links to other relevant documents and policies
Click here to read the document online and consider taking these steps:
- Include the contents of the policy in your own workplace human rights policies
- Involve your staff by providing training on the policy contents
- Invoke the mantra: Learn don’t litigate
Learn don’t litigate