Canada: Trinity Western University Graduate "Religiously Harassed" And Denied Job Due To Religious Beliefs

In Paquette v. Amaruk Wilderness and another (No. 4), a Trinity Western University ("TWU") graduate was awarded over $8,500 by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal because of a company's refusal to hire her due, in part, to her religious beliefs. The employer, Amaruk Wilderness, did not agree with some of the beliefs contained in TWU's "Community Covenant" which provides, among other things, that students must "abstain from ... sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman." Amaruk made its disagreement clear in a series of e-mail messages to Ms. Paquette and its actions were found to be discriminatory.


Amaruk is a Norwegian company that offers wilderness tours. In the summer of 2014, Amaruk posted a Guide Internship position on its website and advertised minimum requirements to apply, including wilderness guide certification and backcountry experience.

The Complainant, Ms. Paquette, is a Christian who attended TWU. TWU has been the subject of widespread debate as of late with respect to the accreditation of its proposed faculty of law. That matter is currently before the British Columbia Court of Appeal and public debate is largely focused on the Community Covenant all students of TWU are required to sign. Ms. Paquette signed the Covenant and testified that she generally sought to follow it.

Ms. Paquette had some experience as a raft guide and applied for the Guide Internship position with Amaruk by e-mail. Ms. Paquette received a reply to her application the next day from Mr. Olaf Amundsen of Amaruk, which read:

Ms. Paquette,

I do not understand the purpose of your application considering you do not meet the minimum requirements that are clearly outlined on our website.

Additionally, considering you were involved with Trinity Western University, I should mention that, unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want, and this is reflected within some of our staff and management. In addition, the Norse background of most of the guys at the management level means that we are not a Christian organization, and most of us actually see Christianity as having destroyed our culture, tradition, and way of life.

Ms. Paquette replied to that e-mail stating that her religious beliefs and university should have nothing to do with whether or not she met Amaruk's requirements. After a historical narrative regarding Christian influence on the Norse people, Ms. Paquette indicated that even if she were qualified for the position, she would refuse it. She concluded by stating, "God Bless, Bethany Paquette proud Christian and graduate of Trinity Western University."

Mr. Amundsen, along with three other company representatives replied to Ms. Paquette, and their e-mails included the following statements:

  • [P]eople who did not agree with your church would be flayed, burnt, roasted, quartered, etc... so you guys have a long history of intolerance...
  • This is precisely because we cannot tolerate discrimination, or intolerance, that graduates from Trinity Western University are not welcome in our (Norwegian) company...
  • We believe that a man ending up with another man is probably the best thing that could happen to him...
  • [Discrimination] is equally unacceptable in the Kingdom of Norway, and as a result, within our company.

Ms. Paquette had no further communication with the authors of the e-mails and testified that the e-mails made her ashamed of who she was and that she had graduated from TWU. She maintained that she would have no problem guiding gay or bisexual clients.
Ms. Paquette filed a human rights complaint alleging that Amaruk discriminated against her on various grounds, including her religion.

The Tribunal's Decision

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found that while one of the elements of Amaruk's first e-mail was to communicate to Ms. Paquette that she did not meet the minimum requirements of the advertised position, Amaruk also made the point of "taking issue with the principles embraced by TWU and with Christianity on a broad-brush basis, which implie[d] that Ms. Paquette's religious beliefs were a factor in rejecting her employment application."

The Tribunal found that the subsequent e-mails clearly connected this aversion to Christian beliefs with Amaruk's decision not to accept Ms. Paquette's application. The Tribunal determined that a factor of Amaruk's decision to deny Ms. Paquette the position was her past affiliation with TWU, establishing her, in the minds of Amaruk and its employees, as an evangelistic Christian.

The Tribunal found that Amaruk religiously harassed Ms. Paquette through its e-mails. Religious harassment generally requires a course of repeated conduct, but where the alleged conduct is extreme, a single act may be sufficient to make such a finding. The Tribunal was satisfied that this test was easily met in this case.

The Award

As a remedy, the Tribunal awarded Ms. Paquette $8,500 for injury to dignity and self-respect and $661.08 for reimbursement of expenses incurred in the proceeding. The Tribunal compared the facts of this case to those in Garneau v. Buy-Rite Foods where $15,000 was awarded to a complainant who was subjected to serious workplace bullying and harassment due to his physical and mental disabilities and perceived sexual orientation.

The Tribunal noted the discriminatory behaviour in Garneau persisted over a sustained period of time, while the events in Ms. Paquette's case lasted for only four days. While Ms. Paquette submitted no medical evidence to support the effect that Amaruk's e-mails had on her, she testified that they made her ashamed about who she was and dissuaded her from being forthcoming about her religious beliefs.

The Tribunal declined to award any damages for wage loss as it found that it was unlikely that Ms. Paquette would have been the successful candidate for the position, even in the absence of Amaruk's discriminatory behaviour.

Lessons for Employers

While employers do not often act as egregiously as Amaruk did in this case, employers are reminded to be cautious about engaging in religious dialogue with prospective and current employees, particularly when it involves religious beliefs that may not accord with their own.

It is also important to remember that characteristics protected by human rights legislation (in this case religion) need not necessarily be the sole or overriding factor in an employer's decision not to hire an applicant for the hiring decision to be discriminatory.

Indeed, in this case, Ms. Paquette admitted that she was not fully qualified for the position and the first statement Amaruk made to Ms. Paquette dealt solely with her lack of qualifications for the job. Unfortunately, Amaruk did not stop there. Its barrage of subsequent e-mails allowed the Tribunal to conclude that regardless of her lack of qualifications, Ms. Paquette's religious beliefs were also a factor in Amaruk's decision to deny her the position and that the decision was therefore discriminatory.

Note: In October of 2014, the CBC raised questions about whether Amaruk Wilderness Corp. is actually based in Norway, or whether it even offers wilderness services. Ms. Paquette's counsel issued a press release shortly thereafter, stating that the report would not have any impact on Ms. Paquette's complaint, and noted that Amaruk Wilderness Corp. is legally registered in British Columbia.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

David Louie
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.