From: Competing Human Rights
Employer distributing Bibles and religious advice
Here is an example of a Code right (creed) versus a Charter right (freedom of religion and expression).
encourages them to attend church meetings, gives each a Bible as a gift for Christmas and asks them if they share his opinions on a variety of matters. Employees have made it clear that they do not welcome or appreciate his comments and conduct in their workplace and that they plan to file a claim under the Ontario Human Rights Code. This could be argued as a competing rights situation because:
Where two human rights conflict, the Supreme Court of Canada has said no rights are absolute, no one right automatically “trumps” any other, and any human right can be limited if it interferes with the rights of others.
Girls and women often face sexism, marginalization, discrimination, harassment and exclusion throughout society. Women have fought hard over the years for equal rights and treatment.
People belonging to minority creed communities have faced religious intolerance, including serious persecution, harassment, racism and discrimination.
April 2012 - The main goal of this policy is to provide clear, user-friendly guidance to organizations, policy makers, litigants, adjudicators and others on how to assess, handle and resolve competing rights claims. The policy will help various sectors, organizations and individuals deal with everyday situations of competing rights, and avoid the time and expense of bringing a legal challenge before a court or human rights decision-maker. It sets out a process, based in existing case law, to analyze and reconcile competing rights. This process is flexible and can apply to any competing rights claim under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, provincial or federal human rights legislation or another legislative scheme.
In general, competing human rights involve situations where parties to a dispute claim that the enjoyment of an individual or group’s human rights and freedoms, as protected by law, would interfere with another’s rights and freedoms. This complicates the normal approach to resolving a human rights dispute where only one side claims a human rights violation. In some cases, only one party is making a human rights claim, but the claim conflicts with the legal entitlements of another party or parties.
This document explains the legal backdrop for the Commission’s Policy Framework. It is divided into two main sections. The first provides an overview and summary of key legal principles from some significant legal decisions. This section aims to help readers understand the relevant legal background when seeking to conciliate or otherwise reconcile competing rights claims. The second part of the document surveys the leading cases that deal with competing rights. It also provides examples of situations where the leading cases, and the key principles from them, have been applied by courts and tribunals. It is divided by the types of rights conflicts that most commonly arise. The cases are discussed in some detail as the specific factual context of each case is so important to the rights reconciliation process.
In our society we have different levels of rights – Charter rights, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Code rights, from Ontario’s Human Rights Code, statutory rights created by laws and other “perceived rights.” As people better understand their rights and wish to exercise them, some of those rights can come into conflict. For example, the right to be free from discrimination on the ground of religious creed, or sexual orientation or gender can sometimes appear to be at odds with other rights.
After the policy dialogue, we created a draft framework for dealing with competing rights in a respectful way that considered the rights of all involved. We presented this model to a diverse group of stakeholders in an intense two-day session. The framework is now being fine-tuned for the next step – creating a formal policy that offers practical steps for considering the possibility of solutions that will both respect and support everyone’s rights.
Tribunals and courts face a growing need to balance competing rights, in areas such as religion and sexual orientation. One example of this balancing act is Ontario Human Rights Commission v. Christian Horizons, a lengthy and complex case which was appealed to the Ontario Divisional Court.
This section of the paper surveys the balancing tools found in the Code and relevant case law. Documents such as Commission briefing notes and Policy Papers provide invaluable commentary on these tools and their insights are woven into the following discussion. The goal of this section is to identify the resources for balancing conflicting rights that will be utilized in the scenarios discussed in Section IV.