Employment Interviews and Human Rights
An employment interview allows a prospective employee and his or her potential employer to learn about one another and determine whether or not they can work together successfully.
Often, employers will address issues that are not directly relevant to the vacancy being filled. Such questions might even come across as violating basic human rights protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Canadian Human Rights Act entitles all individuals to equal employment opportunities without regard to:
- Race or color
- National or ethnic origin
- Family/marital status/sex (including pregnancy and childbirth)
- Sexual orientation
- Pardoned conviction
- Disability (either physical or mental)
If, for example, a woman interviews for an executive position requiring many late nights, substantial overtime and weekend work, an employer may be tempted to ask whether she has school-age children who would suffer as a result of such an arduous schedule. Under the Canadian Human Rights Act, an employer should not inquire directly about her children and/or child-care arrangements. Instead, the employer should ask the candidate whether or not she would be able to work the required hours and, where applicable, overtime.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission provides directions for employers who will conduct interviews of prospective employees. These directions list questions on sensitive issues that cannot be asked. The directions also outline the proper way to phrase a question in order to obtain the required information.
The Canadian Human Rights Act covers employment under federal jurisdiction, such as: federal government departments and agencies, airlines, banks, railways, radio, television and telephone companies, transport companies that do business in more than one province, and so on.
All non-federal jobs remain under provincial jurisdiction, which means that guidelines may differ from province to province. Therefore, regardless of the province or territory in which you plan to settle, you should check the applicable guidelines for each. See the guidelines for each province and territory below:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Northwest Territories