Slap on the wrist for age discrimination

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A recruitment agency that asked for a date of birth on a job application form must pay $500 to the complainant.

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found that Niagara Caregivers and Personnel Ltd was in the wrong for asking for the information, but because the company had already taken steps to change its forms the tribunal did not make any further orders.

The agency argued that the applicant would require a work permit, which required a date of birth, that it was reasonable to request the information. However, the tribunal suggested the agency should not request the information until after the application process was complete.

 “This case shows the increasing scrutiny of employment decisions for age discrimination issues,”  employment lawyer Michael Torrance said, adding that it may reflect the aging workforce and heightened sensitivities around the challenges faced by older workers. “The case demonstrates the importance of being cautious in limiting the amount of information collected at the time of recruitment, to only what is necessary and not including information on any protected grounds under the Code.”

As well as age, employers should avoid questions that could require a candidate to identify place of origin or marital status, unless there is code-compliant reason. As this decision shows, the information does not need to be used during the decision-making process to still be found non-compliant.
“With such risks in mind, the best approach is to ensure that job application forms only ask candidates for information that is required to allow their candidacy to be assessed,” Torrance said.

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