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Employment law prohibits discrimination in ads

Business owners in British Columbia must be careful with the wording for advertisements they post or print for jobs in their establishments. Any ad that expresses limitations, preferences or specifications related to protected characteristics under the BC Human Rights Code may constitute discrimination. A comprehensive understanding of the related requirements is essential.

Ads that may show a discriminatory preference for a certain group of people include, for example, ones showing an explicit preference for young workers without a justifiable reason. Compare this to the position of a translator requiring fluency in a specific language, or a job with an immigration organization that serves immigrants from a particular country and needs someone with an understanding of that country. If an employer can prove that the preference was a bona fide occupational requirement, it may not constitute discrimination.

Someone who files a claim alleging this type of discrimination under the Human Rights Code must show that an advertisement for employment excluded him or her. The exclusion must involve a protected characteristic under the law. The complainant would need evidence of the ad that expresses a preference, specification or limitation related to a personal characteristic, and also document when and where the ad was published.

To avoid unnecessary and costly litigation, many business owners in British Columbia use the support and guidance of an experienced employment law lawyer. Legal counsel can explain employers' obligations under Human Rights Code and assist with the drafting of documents to avoid unwitting violations. In the event of a lawsuit, the lawyer can advocate for business owners and work to achieve the best possible outcome, whether through mediation or litigation.

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