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Human Rights Damages for Discrimination during the Job Application Process

In a recent Human Rights Tribunal decision, a potential job applicant was awarded $8,000.00 for the discrimination endured when applying for a job at a local Ottawa Valley cleaning company.

Bouraoui v. Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration, 2014 HRTO 1303 (CanLII)

In Bouraoui v. Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration, Mr. Bouraoui brought an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging discrimination based on a protected ground. Mr. Bouraoui had applied for a number of jobs in the Ottawa area. One resume was left with the respondent (who was a no-show).
In June of 2013, Mr. Bouraoui got a call from a man named Jesse, asking if he was still looking for work. He was.
During the short conversation, Jesse asked Mr. Bouraoui if he was white or black. Mr. Bouraoui was shocked and couldn't muster an answer. Jesse told him he would text him about the Job. 

The decision of the tribunal reproduced the text conversation:
11:44 Jesse: Try learning English you will have better luck I don't hire foreners I keep the white man working12:02 Applicant: You said you keep the white man woking is abuse iwill file a complaint against you about your message . Ihave proof12:16 Jesse: Go ahead have fun with that you told me fy that's what you get and I didn't say anything that can get me in trouble you are a former and I said that I keep the white man,working so you go and waste your time and see how far this gets you they are going to laugh at you I can say what ever I want this is a very good example of why I don't hire foreners you waste peoples time with your bull shit so please go waste your day let me know how it goes for you12:21 Applicant: Je plaisant pas avec toi la repnse tu vas le voir pas lentendre12:24 Applicant : What you said is discrimination12:43 Applicant: I confirm for you is descromination is not me who said that you will se next step12:59: Jesse: It's not one bit go ahead stop testing me you are a waste of time get a life it's not my fault you can't get a job13:02 Applicant: I have 2job I dont need your job13:03: Applicant: Just why you said word racist for me13:03: Applicant: Ok the law exist13:09: Jesse: I didn't say anything that is racist all I sad was I don't hire foreners and I hire white men so stop texting me take it how ever you want if you text me again it will be hearasment and there is no law for what I said it's called freedom of speech in Canada maybe you would know that if you were a Canadian good by stop wasting my time I run a business I don't have for you get a life13:12: Applicant: Law exist13:21: Jesse: Ya and now you are harassing me so I'll file a company to don't text me again and you are a forener and I only hire white men how the fuck is that racist you clearly have no life stop wasting mine you clearly have no friends and if you are looking for a friend sorry I don't want to be your friend13:23: Jesse: And stop texting me and go file a complaint he will probably be a white man and he will probably laugh at you and tell you to go away

Outcome

In a no-brainer award, the Tribunal awarded Mr. Bouraoui $8,000.00 for the discrimination.
The take away is simple. If you are an employer, keep in mind what is allowed and not allowed in terms of questions during the interview. Review your workplace policies and be mindful of otherwise mundane questions during an interview, such as "where are you from?" or "you have kids?". These questions, while simple and reasonable in a friendly, private setting, are fodder for human rights discrimination allegations. Always keep in mind the Human Rights code and the protected grounds when interviewing new hires or developing workplace policies.
If you are a potential employee, we certainly hope you never ever come across a "Jesse" in your search. But if you do, you don't need to take it lying down.

Remember, everyone's situation is unique. The blogs posted on this site are informational. They are not intended to be taken as legal advice for your situation. It is always a good idea to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions related to your particular case.

Contact us here.

 

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