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Another Human Rights Violator?: York University

 I’ve already done posts on Starbucks, Coach, and Cara.  Now, I’ve learned that York University (my own employer) is also asking questions in the job recruitment process that seem highly dubious.  

Check out this list of questions on York’s student employment recruitment page.  See anything problematic there?   This application asks similar questions to Cara’s.  It asks applicants to tell the employer whether they can lift 35 pounds and stand for long periods of time.  Imagine a person with a degenerative back disability sees the application, and she can’t stand all day or lift 35 pounds.  The clear signal from York here is that they shouldn’t bother applying, because they can’t do the job.  But that is exactly what Section 23(2) of the Ontario Human Rights Code is trying to prevent.  That section provides as follows:

The right under section 5 to equal treatment with respect to employment is infringed where a form of application for employment is used or a written or oral inquiry is made of an applicant that directly or indirectly classifies or indicates qualifications by a prohibited ground of discrimination.

York can’t refuse to hire someone who is unable to lift 35 pounds because of a disability, so it can’t weed those people out in the job application form.  Rather, if the person is otherwise qualified, York should offer the person the job, and then engage in a dialogue with the employee about what sort of accommodation is needed to enable the person to perform the job notwithstanding the inability to lift 35 pounds.  

Thanks to one of my employment law students for pointing out this application form.  Please keep sending new application forms.

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