Is Asking About Age in an Interview Discrimination?

Nov 10, 2016

The Toronto Star recently reported that a 55 year old woman alleges that the Toronto Police Services (“TPS”) refused to hire her as a police officer due to her age.

The Law

According to the Ontario Human Rights Code, all employees have a right to be free from discrimination on 16 grounds, including sex, disability and age.  This includes job applicants.

Many human rights cases concern discrimination experienced by employees at their workplace. Employers are also not allowed to have discriminatory hiring practices and cannot refuse to hire someone based on the protected grounds, including age.

What Happened

According to the article, the applicant spent three years into the police application process. She passed the initial interview, physical requirements, and psychological testing. In a subsequent background interview, she was asked how old she was even though TPS already knew the answer. After two more years, she was ultimately denied a position. TPS stated that the reasons for her not getting the job was that she had not worked in 14 years, TPS was facing job cuts, and there were other qualified candidates.

The applicant filed a human rights application. She alleged that the employer took her age into account and led her to believe that she was in line for a position.

What Will Be the Outcome

As the case is still pending at the Tribunal, no determinations have been made. The normal procedure for an application could include mediation, exchange of evidence, and possibly a hearing.

Notably, one previous decision has found that asking an applicant’s age, and then denying her the position was discriminatory, and ordered $15,000 in damages for injury to the applicant’s dignity, feelings and self-respect.  It is possible this will occur in the TPS case.

If you have experienced mistreatment on the basis of your age, race, religious views, gender, sexual orientation or any other ground, you should speak to a lawyer. If you would like to speak to an experienced human rights lawyer at MacLeod Law Firm, you can reach us at [email protected] or 647-204-8107.

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