It is the time of year when we prepare to celebrate various religious, cultural and seasonal holidays and festivals. As business lawyers, we are increasingly called on to advise clients as to the best way to enjoy these celebrations with a minimum of offence and a maximum of fun. Well, okay, no one ever asks us how to make anything more fun, but if they ever did, we would sure have some great ideas …
Most of the trouble at this time of year comes from office parties, alcohol consumption and the celebration of specific religious holidays. Inga’s blog from a few weeks ago covered a lot of the issues surrounding drinking and office parties. In terms of the subject of the celebrations, common sense rules the day.
Each province has its own human rights legislation and each one of them speaks to discrimination in the workplace. Celebrations that favour any particular religious tradition are discriminatory and are to be avoided. Case law is littered with examples of employees seeking restitution for offenses committed by thoughtless employers.
Celebrations should be all-encompassing and non-specific. While it is true that the greater religious significance that a ritual has, the more likely it is to be offensive to those adherents of other belief systems, even seemingly innocuous celebrations can create an uncomfortable atmosphere in the workplace. Nativity scenes and menorahs are obvious stay-away items, but even the humble poinsettia has been the subject of at least one wrongful dismissal claim.
Remember that perception is more important than intention. Even the noblest intention of sharing one particular celebration with others may cause discomfort and exclusion. Before engaging in any holiday celebration, it is important to consider the range of perceptions that any activity or undertaking is going to bring about. Think about it once and then think about it again – and if you’re still in doubt, call us. We can probably suggest a sensible way to celebrate the joy of the season without stepping on anyone’s toes. And if you want some ideas for how to make things more fun, we’ve got that covered too.
— Scott Young
Now in the spirit of the season, we offer our own wishes for a joyous season to you.
This seasonal greeting is hereby submitted on the 11th day of December, 2009 (CE) and shall be open for acceptance until 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the 24th day of December 2009 (CE).
B E T W E E N:
ANDRIESSEN & ASSOCIATES, a professional corporation comprised of Barristers and Solicitors, incorporated pursuant to the laws of the Province of Ontario (hereinafter the “Greetors”)
YOU, an individual ordinarily resident in the Province of Ontario and not a non-resident, as that term is defined in the Income Tax Act (Canada) (hereinafter the “Greetee”)
WHEREAS pursuant to the belief systems underlying various theistic ideologies, non-theistic ideologies, cultural, astronomical and agricultural observances, many different festivals and events of significance are observed in and around the current period;
AND WHEREAS despite popular conceptions to the contrary, those practicing in the legal profession in general, and the Greetors in particular, are, in concert with the various groups engaging in the aforesaid rituals and celebrations, desirous of extending sentiments laden with joy and cheer (hereinafter the “Greeting”) to other humans in general and to the Greetee in particular;
NOW THEREFORE in consideration of the covenants and agreements herein and one dollar ($1.00) now paid by each party to each of the other (the receipt and sufficiency whereof are hereby acknowledged) the parties as follows:
1 GENERAL PROVISIONS
1.1 Deity Non-Specific. Any reference by the Greetor to any monotheistic, duotheistic, multitheistic deity or to the existence of a deity at all, or the absence of any deity shall be interpreted so as to give effect to the appropriate theistic or non-theistic belief system as preferred by the Greetee.
1.2 No Warranty. The Greetor offers no express or implied warranty as to the soundness or merchantability of the Greeting. In the event that the Greeting is constructed by a court of competent authority to include a warranty, under no circumstances shall such warranty survive the expression of the Greeting.
1.3 Governing Law. This Greeting will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the Province of Ontario and the laws of Canada applicable therein. Each party attorns to the jurisdiction of the courts of the Province of Ontario in the event that the Greeting requires adjudication.
2.1 The Greetor shall and does hereby extend to the Greetee wishes for the happy (as that term is generally defined) and safe (including, but not limited to the exclusion of all legal, physical or moral perils, as allowed by applicable law) enjoyment of the upcoming, ongoing, or recently passed holiday (or holiday season as the case may be).
2.2 The Greetor shall and does further hereby extend to the Greetee wishes that during the aforesaid holiday (or holiday season as the case may be), they be surrounded by those family and friends for whom the Greetee has an affinity or predilection and with whom the Greetee would be and is desirous of being surrounded by.
2.3 The Greetor shall and does further hereby extend to the Greetee wishes for a happy (as that term is generally defined) New Year, unless and except in the case where the Greetee is not in observance of, or bound by, the Gregorian civil calendar.
2.4 The aforesaid section 2.3 shall not be interpreted as any endorsement for the supremacy of the Gregorian calendar, Pope Gregory XIII or the Roman Catholic Church, nor shall it be construed as any challenge to the supremacy of the Gregorian calendar, Pope Gregory XIII or the Roman Catholic Church.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this agreement as of the day and year first above written.
ANDRIESSEN & ASSOCIATES, Professional Corporation
I have authority to bind the corporation
I hereby accept this Greeting and agree to abide by the terms contained herein on this __ day of December, 2009.