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In Ontario, the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”) protects a potential candidate from human rights violations that can arise as part of the hiring process. Interviews are intended to provide an opportunity for an employer to get to know a prospective employee and to assess their fitness for the position. During the interview process, an employer can ask about a candidates’ previous experience to determine if she or he is qualified for the position they are applying for. Employers are however not permitted by law to ask questions relating to any grounds that are protected by the Code.

Employers must, therefore, refrain from asking questions about a candidates’ race, ancestry, place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, religion, sex/pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender expression/gender identity, age, family status, marital status, colour, creed, record of offences or disability.

If an employer asks a question relating to any of these protected grounds, the candidate does not have to provide an answer. An example of illegal behaviour would be if a potential employer asks a visible minority candidate whether they would be able to deal with racial slurs while the employer does not ask this of non-visible minority applicants. Instead, the employer can ask all candidates how they would deal with a difficult client or challenging customers. If an individual feels as though they did not get a position because they did not answer one of these questions, then there may be a legitimate claim and basis for filing a human rights complaint.

If you feel that you were treated unfairly in an interview, or that you were denied a position because of human rights discrimination and you are looking for help and/or legal advice, contact Sultan Lawyers at 416-214-5111 or via email at mlahert@sultanlawyers.com.

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