“No excuse” for illegal job-ads

Subtle discrimination can slip through the net but one leading employment lawyer says HR should know better.

“No excuse” for illegal job-ads
We’ve all seen outrageous job ads seeking a certain type of employee and while it may seem unrealistic to think seasoned HR professionals would make such a blunder, subtle discrimination often slips though the net.

“As much as it seems pretty straight-forward and common sense, there are a lot of ads out there that we find are violating Human Rights legislation,” says Trevor Thomas, of Kent Employment Law.

These violations range from employers using gender-specific titles such as ‘salesman’ or ‘waitress’ to suggesting the role would be most suitable for a high-school graduate looking for their first-job.

“You could have a totally legitimate reason for wanting that certain group of people but you’re really putting yourself into a place where you could be exposed and someone could potentially file a Human Rights complaint against your company,” he warned.

According to Thomas, a complainant doesn’t even have to apply for the job in order to file a Human Rights complaint – they just have to perceive it as potentially discriminatory.

Failed applicants can also launch a Human Rights complaint if they think they were only unsuccessful because they didn’t meet the employer’s preferred requirements, such as age or gender.

The best way to avoid such claims, stresses Thomas, is to rely on the Human Rights legislation for guidance.

“The main consideration for an employer when preparing a job advertisement is to be aware of Human Rights legislation,” he told HRM. “That means for federally regulated employers have to look at the federal Human Rights legislation and provincial employers have to look at provincial legislation.”

One exception to the rule, reveals Thomas, is when a role relies on one of the characteristics protected by the Human Rights Legislation – such as a female driver for a women only taxi service.

“That would be justified because it would be a bona fide requirement of that job,” explains Thomas. “You’d be able to demonstrate that you’re hiring a certain class of people, in this case a certain sex, because your company focuses on that and there are legitimate reasons for only wanting women to be employed.”

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