People often think discrimination applies only to racial and ethnic differences, but as DBM always advises our clients, the BC Human Rights Code covers much more than that.
The Code prevents employers from discriminating against potential employees due to race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or the conviction of an “offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person.”
BC Human Rights Clinic also publishes guidelines for potential employers and employees about hiring practices, including what is appropriate through the hiring process. It is very important to note that these are guidelines, that there is no law that prevents potential employers from asking inappropriate questions.
If you are asked these questions through the interview process, you should take note of them. It may be that the employer is not aware of the guidelines, or they may be signs of discriminatory hiring practices
What does that mean when you are in an interview? What are considered appropriate and inappropriate questions?
Here are examples in a variety of areas that you should be familiar with.
✓ Are you old enough to work legally?
X How old are you/What is your date of birth?
- Race, colour, ancestry, ethnicity, place of origin
✓ Can you work legally in Canada?
✓ What languages can you read and speak fluently if it’s related to the job you are applying for.
X What is your place of birth?
X Are you a Canadian citizen?
✓ Can you work the shifts or hours the specific job demands, i.e. Saturday or Sunday
X What are your religious beliefs?
X What religious holidays do you observe
X What place of worship do you attend?
- Mental or physical disability
✓ Do you have any physical or mental disabilities that would affect your ability to do the job?
✓ Do you have any physical or mental disabilities that you would like us to take into consideration?
X Can you tell me about any past or current health problems?
X Have you had any WCB claims?
X Have you missed work because of stress or mental health issues?
If your condition does not have a direct impact on your ability to do the job you are applying for, you do not have to discuss with the interviewer.
- Sexual orientation and gender identity
X You should not be asked, nor do you have to answer, questions about your sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
- Criminal or summary conviction
✓ Can you be bonded?
✓ Can you be approved to work with children?
X Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? (Unless there is a there is a definite reason tied to the specific job you are applying for.)
How do I answer if I am asked these questions in an interview?
If you are asked what seem to be inappropriate questions, it may not be in your own best interests to refuse to answer. It may be better to try to understand the reason for the question.
You have every right to ask them what the question has to do with the job you are applying for. If they give you a valid reason-like the example above about being able to work weekends-you can address these concerns in the interview.
But, if have any concerns that you have been discriminated against you can contact the BC Human Rights Tribunal. DBM advises people to seek legal advice to determine if you have other options. In British Columbia, you have rights, but sometimes you need help standing up for them.