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Employment law: What constitutes discriminating advertising?

Employers in British Columbia can land in hot water if they publish discriminating advertisements for job vacancies. Under employment law, the human rights of applicants may not be violated by placing ads that restrict some people from applying. No such advertisement may include specifications, limitations or mention preferences as to the types of applicants who may apply.

The characteristics that may not be specified or hinted at in marketing material for job vacancies include gender expression and identity, sexual orientation, race or colour, family and marital status, ancestry, or age. Also, places of origin, religion, political belief, and mental or physical disabilities may not jeopardize anyone's chances of securing employment. Employers may only limit applicants if the reason can be proved, such as advertising for a position that requires an applicant who understands and speaks a specific foreign language.

Anyone who wants to challenge such an advertisement will have to show that the ad for prospective employment exists and that it includes a limitation, preference or specification. The complaint must then show that the ad disallows the complainant who has a personal characteristic that is protected under the Human Rights Code to apply. Providing a copy of the advertisement might help to prove the case.

Although any worker in British Columbia has the right to file a legal complaint about a discriminating advertisement, the ensuing legal proceedings could be challenging. Securing the services of an employment law lawyer who has experience in dealing with the legal problems of both employees and employers might be a good idea. The lawyer can assess the viability of the claim because there are exceptions to the laws by which the employer can prove that the limitation was justified. With legal counsel's support and guidance, the best possible outcome may be achieved.

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