L’interdiction de signes religieux en entreprise : regards croisés autour de la protection du salarié en France et au Québec
Sébastien Parent et Pauline Fleury
Volume : 75-1 (2020)
A controversial bill now prevents some public servants working for the Quebec State from wearing religious symbols in the exercise of their functions. Following this recent legislative intervention, a desire for private enterprises to embrace this new concept relating to state neutrality could emerge. The validity of a policy prohibiting the wearing of religious symbols in the workplace must be analyzed in light of the freedom of religion and the right to equality of workers, which ultimately require a judge’s interpretation. On this issue, France has very specific precedents, while Quebec has a substantial jurisprudence about reasonable accommodation on religious grounds.
In considering this issue in a company workplace that involves identical fundamental workers’ rights, this comparative analysis between France and Quebec reveals the diametrically opposed paths taken by each national judge. Notably, differences appear in assessing the legitimacy of the religious symbols ban adopted by the employer, and through the examination of possible measures to prevent the dismissal of the employee. Furthermore, the financial burden that the employer’s business has to bear related to these measures is completely opposite. Overall, this article highlights that the interpretative function of the judge plays a significant role in employment protection, and also discusses the possibilities that Quebec law adopts the French approach.
Keywords: right to equality, discrimination, freedom of religion, enterprise, policy of neutrality, duty of reasonable accommodation.