Man’s human rights complaint of being fired after religion-based mask refusal dismissed

Apr 12 2021, 11:40 am

A man who lost his job for refusing to wear a mask over what he claimed were religious reasons, and subsequently filed a human rights complaint, has now had his complaint tossed out by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.

The complaint stemmed from an incident involving a man who was hired to do contract work at a facility.

The man claimed that upon his arrival at the facility, he was told by the manager that he must wear a face mask and was not allowed to enter without wearing one.

“He refused to do so, saying it was his ‘religious creed’ and that he would not wear a mask,” the ruling states. “A senior district manager subsequently sent the worker a letter terminating his contract for not wearing a mask.”

In response, the man filed human rights complaints against the district managers, alleging discrimination based on religion.

According to the ruling, in describing his religious beliefs, the man argued that humans are made in the image of God, and “a big part of our image that we all identify with is our face. To cover‐up our face arbitrarily dishonours God.”

The worker also claimed that wearing a mask infringed on his freedom of expression to show his face in the general public and his religious liberty to identify his face to others, and that it also infringed on his “God-given ability to breathe.”

However, in his decision to dismiss the complaint, tribunal member Steven Adamson wrote that the worker failed to factually demonstrate that the man’s objection to wearing a mask was grounded in a “sincerely held” religious belief.

“Rather, his objection is based on his opinion that wearing a mask does not stop the transmission of COVID‐19,” Adamson furthered. “This is not a belief protected by the Code.”

Citing privacy reasons, Adamson did not publish the name of the workplace facility, the employer, or the man’s name in his rulings.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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