Inappropriate questions in a job interview, Can I file a claim?

Inappropriate questions in a job interview, Can I file a claim?

I was asked inappropriate questions in a job interview. Can I file a discrimination claim in Ontario?

Interviews can always be nerve wracking. Your focus is on demonstrating your skills, personality, and proving you’re the best fit for the role. All you want is to make the best impression you can.

There is always the odd interview that seems way more challenging than the others. It may have been crammed with difficult questions that you weren’t necessarily prepared for. With your heart racing, you were forced to think on your feet and hope that your response was the correct answer. A complex question can almost always be expected in an interview. But what if the complex questions transition to inappropriate ones?

What constitutes an inappropriate question?

In Ontario, a job applicant can sue a company for asking illegal interview questions or rejecting the applicant based on the answers to these illegal questions. For interview questions to be deemed illegal, or what the interviewee may consider “inappropriate”, the interviewer would ask about race, ethnicity, place of origin, citizenship, sex, sexual orientation, gender, age, pregnancy, number of children, marital status, disability, medical history, or religion. The questions don’t always need to be direct. An illegal question can also be hidden in nuances and indirectly asked to the interviewee.

For example, the interviewer may have asked, “is your boyfriend comfortable with you commuting to work every day?” Even if the interviewer seemed to ask lightheartedly, the interviewee is being forced to answer whether they are living with their partner, potentially married to their partner, or discuss their sexual orientation. According to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, this constitutes as discriminatory behaviour, and the interviewee may file a claim alleging pre-employment discrimination.

Pre-employment discrimination is when an applicant has been treated unfairly before they’ve been employed. The applicant can file a pre-employment discrimination claim if they’ve experienced unfair treatment during the interview stage, or at any point during the hiring process. The applicant does not need to have entered an employer-employee relationship to file a claim against the relevant employer or company.

There are exceptions to asking questions that speak about these discriminatory topics that may not be considered discriminatory if handled correctly. According to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, an interviewer can appropriately ask for an applicant to expand on a topic that may affect their ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the job. For example, if the applicant has previously requested accommodation, the interviewer can ask more about their accommodation requirements during the interview. This could be important information when hiring for a construction position that requires daily heavy lifting. If the candidate just had back surgery and requires accommodation, that may affect their ability to perform their job

If you have experienced illegal questioning in an interview or unfair treatment during the hiring process, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.