Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You mean hockey isn't a religion? - A Human Resources Perspective

As a Christian, I'm not sure if I should find this amusing or offensive

I thought I'd approach this week's topic from a different approach and actually attempt to use what I've learned in Human Resources management class. My professor would be so proud. Or ashamed.

Everybody knows that discrimination on the grounds of religion is prohibited. The new CBA [opens in .pdf file] doesn't say much about players having to miss practices for religious obligations because it should be pretty obvious that the league has no right to tell them they can't. It's seen as a fundamental freedom and protected under all Human Rights acts. Benjamin Rubin shouldn't have to compromise his religious beliefs in order to accommodate his career. If he does get passed over in the draft simply because there was not a sufficient scouting report out on him, he could say that the scouts didn't meet their duty to accommodate. If the scouts say that they want to give every junior player a chance, then it shouldn't be too much of a burden on them to go to more games in the middle of the week.

Duty to Accommodate - It is a requirement that the employer accommodate the employee not to the point of "undue hardship." NHL scouts are a little bit different as before the junior players are drafted, they are not considered employees of the NHL. However, professional scouts attending only games on the weekend where Rubin is sitting out can be seen as indirect or systemic discrimination.

Systemic Discrimination in the work force is allowed if the point of contention is seen as a Bona Fide Occupational Requirement (BFOR). A BFOR is a job requirement that legally overrides human rights protection. They're allowed when abilities needed to carry out the essential job requirements are related to a prohibited ground. For example, if an employee's religious commitments require wearing a turban and the job requires that the employee wear a hard hat or helmet for safety reasons, then it is legally acceptable for the employer to refuse to hire that candidate.

Criteria Used to Assess BFOR
The appropriateness of BFORs are assessed on 3 things:
1) Is the standard rationally connected to the performance of the job?

2) Was the standard established in an honest belief that it was necessary to accomplish the purpose identified in stage 1?

3) Is the standard reasonably necessary to accomplish its purpose?

So then what is the BFOR of a NHL player? The job required of a NHL player is the product they ultimately produce on the ice in game time situations. Thus, it requires that the player actually be present. In BFOR situations, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to prove that the requirement is essential to completing the job.

Rubin is a promising young player but is still years away from making an impact. In 27 games with the Quebec Remparts he has 3 goals and 0 assists. If it comes to be that he turns into a superstar player and his absence greatly damages the success of the team and the product on the ice, then teams could make an argument that his salary should be going towards somebody who can actually attend all games and practices.

On the flip side, given that his religious obligations don't directly effect his performance, the fact that he has to sit out a number of practices and games shouldn't be an issue. If the League doesn't schedule games for certain major holidays, then there should be no reason why players who celebrate different holidays cannot sit out when needed. It is hard to say in a hypothetical situation whether or not the amount of games and practices Rubin sits out will effect the team chemistry and his relationship with his teammates.

Rubin believes that his talents were God-given and that hockey is what he is meant to do. He wants to continue to play hockey as a means of glorifying God and he should be given every opportunity to do so. If he feels that his spiritual life might suffer as a result of his hockey career, then that's his decision to make. I hope for his sake that it doesn't come down to one or the other. However, the League doesn't have to change the way it runs things and no employer would change their regulatory operations for only one person. If Rubin is drafted by a team and the coach finds that his development isn't progressing because of the time he misses, he will most likely not be given quality minutes or even be benched. At the junior level, that doesn't seem to be an issue for him as Patrick Roy, his coach still very much believes in his abilities. At the professional level, it may be a different story.

The League employs hundreds of players who all have different needs and it is impossible for them to accommodate every single one and that is why a specific standard has to be set. If he were a goalie, it would make it easier for him to split shifts with somebody and it wouldn't be as disruptive. The fact is, he's a forward and unless he's an immediate impact player, teams will most likely not be clamouring for him. Unfortunately, it's become a startling trend that the league does make allowances for certain people. The way I see it, if playing professional hockey is really what he is meant to do, then God will create a way for him.


Jen Z said...

Do you work in HR yourself, Sherry? If not, this is impressive research :-)

Jen Z said...

Nevermind, I'm retarded - I see that you mentioned your HR class in the first paragraph. Duh.

Heather B. said...

Sherry: How'd you get the caption on your photo? I'm going with amusing, I think. There *has* to be hockey in heaven, right? So I can buy Jesus playing hockey once in a while since it is one of God's finest creations.

The Acid Queen said...

Rubin believes that his talents were God-given and that hockey is what he is meant to do. He wants to continue to play hockey as a means of glorifying God and he should be given every opportunity to do so.

I like this kid even more already! I hope he makes it into the NHL, so I can buy his jersey and make him chicken soup with matzo balls whenever he's in Raleigh (and I mean that quite sincerely).

Anyway--I really really really think that the boy should consider getting some sort of rabbinical advice on this matter, because he may very well be told that it would be acceptable to play on the Sabbath.

This is, of course, my complete and total non-rabbinical opinion.

CapsChick said...

AQ: It would actually be really interesting to see a rabbinical opinion on this topic, and I'm sure different rabbis would see it different ways. You all know the old saying (or maybe you don't - I seem to be the token Jew on the HLOG) - put three Jewish people in a room you'll get four different opinions.

And five different guilt trips.

Wait, maybe that's just my family...

The Acid Queen said...

Oh, trust me--I know. :D

Jordi said...

Oh boy - you shop there don't you?

Creative way of seeing it, though the mcdonalds style of sports (not everyone can become a pro player just from learning it from the pond and they could spend years in minors or never even making a dent. But it's the dream of being one of the big guys with the big cash that makes people spend years and hours starting from the bottom) in my view will be working against him. And the league does give holidays but those are more like holidays that everyone gets. And Rubin's case occurs more often.

I do want to see a kid like this play, if he could whip out a batman suit and get a job done then maybe. But if he fails to impress and his story is buried into the ground then I guess he left fighting?

Sherry said...

Heather B - I just used a superscript directly underneath the picture, haha.

Jen Z - It's what I learned in class and I'm hoping it's correct. Well, I passed the course so I guess it is, HAHA