Human rights complaint against Shuswap grocer dismissed

Former Food Network competitor was scheduled to work on her Sabbath

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has ruled against a Shuswap woman who alleged she was the victim of discrimination based on her religious beliefs while working at the Sicamous Askew’s Foods location.

According to tribunals ruling, released on Feb. 20, Janet Letendre, alleged that while she was employed at the Sicamous Askew’s grocery store as a bakery employee in 2018, she was scheduled to work shifts on Saturday which, as a Seventh-Day Adventist, she recognizes as her Sabbath.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) concluded that Letendre’s case would not succeed if it proceeded to a hearing.

Letendre, who was a competitor in the recent Holiday Baking Championship on the Food Network, declined to comment on the decision and Askew’s management didn’t respond to an interview request before press time.

The Tribunal operates based on the BC Human Rights Code. The code specifies that employers must not discriminate against people regarding employment or any term of employment because of religion, along with a number of other elements of a person’s identity.

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The key events in the dispute over working the Saturday shifts took place in June 2018. The BCHRT decision states Letendre was scheduled to work on two consecutive Saturdays. It says conflicting evidence was presented as to whether Letendre agreed to work the Saturday shifts or if she was made to.

The decision states the evidence is sufficient for the tribunal to conclude that Askew’s would be able to establish in a hearing that scheduling Letendre to work the Saturday shifts was rationally connected to the performance of her job and the scheduling was done in good faith. It adds that Askew’s believed scheduling Letendre on Saturday was necessary to fulfill a work-related purpose.

“The affidavit and documentary evidence indicate, and Ms. Letendre does not appear to dispute, that when she started working at Askew’s, she told her employer that although Saturdays are her Sabbath, she was willing to work them when needed. It indicates that during the course of her employment, Ms. Letendre worked the occasional Saturday and sometimes worked two Saturdays in one month,” the BCHRT decision reads.

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The decision notes Letendre did not have to work another Saturday after the second shift in June 2018 until her employment at Askew’s came to an end.

In the conclusion, the 12-page ruling, tribunal member Beverly Froese states that the complaint is dismissed in its entirety. The dismissal is based on section 27 (1) (c) of the Human Rights Code. Section 27 (1) (c) states that complaints can be dismissed if there is no reasonable prospect that they will succeed in a hearing.



jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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