Discrimination in Employment

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Francesca Allan
Discrimination in Employment

Just wondering if a person who was wrongfully fired on the basis of disability from a job (oh, say, she was a legal secretary who suffered a breakdown) and then whose name got smeared around the relatively small-town legal community as a result of her seeking redress through the Human Rights Tribunal, could she conclude that her inability (despite years of experience and glowing reference letters) to ever find work again in the field (which is normally very easy to get employed in) is the result of discrimination too? I guess I'm asking does it follow that one of the options is in play:

(a) She is being discriminated against because potential employers have heard of her disability; or

(b) She is being discriminated against because potential employers consider her litigious.

If, as I suspect, it is option (b), then I find it very odd that lawyers, whose careers are devoted to promoting clients' rights, wouldn't want a legal assistant in their firm who defended her own rights.

Lastly (and sorry about the long post), how would a person go about testing her theory? Is there an assertive way to ask a firm why she didn't even get an interview?

Francesca Allan

What I meant with option (b) above is I'm wanting to know whether discrimination on the basis of promoting disability rights (i.e. through the Human Rights Tribunal) is  just another form of discrimination? And, if it is, is it possible to seek redress for this new discrimination through the Human Rights Tribunal? I realize that litigiousness is not a condition protected by law but it seems to me it's a disability right to fight back.

Also wanted to mention that when I first got canned (and, yeah, I've been talking about me) I consulted a local lawyer who said "If you do this, you'll never work in this town again." In retrospect, I'd have to say that he was right.

Unionist

Francesca, I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think it's actually unlawful for an employer (even if you could prove it - even if they admitted it) to refuse to hire someone just because they are known to be "litigious". It's certainly not covered under human rights legislation as far as I know.

Once you're hired, there are all kinds of prohibitions on dismissal - for example, you can't be disciplined or fired for union activity, or for filing health and safety complaints, etc. But in the scenario you're describing, no such luck.

I reserve the right to be wrong - does one of our resident lawyers see an angle that I've missed?

 

Francesca Allan

Thanks, Unionist. I guess where I'm coming from is that seeking redress for my unlawful dismissal is not the same thing as "being litigious"; it's righting a wrong. If the result of asserting my rights (to keep my job in spite of my temporary disability) is that I can never work again, it seems clear to me that, effectively, I never actually had the "right" to bring my complaint before the Tribunal or, in other words, that right was essentially meaningless. Certainly, I would have been better off to follow that initial lawyer's advice and just suck it up. Live and learn.

abnormal

Francesca, as it was elequently explained by a (very) senior lawyer in a front of a (very) senior immigration official - "Employers might not like my personality" - the fact that he was probably the best in his field in the world wasn't the issue - people might not want to work with him.

In a prior life one of my direct reports was more than competent but no-one in the office wanted to deal with her - she had a chip on her shoulder that resulted in my refusing to do her performance reviews without my boss present.  Her reputation followed her until she finally took a government job - even there her manager said that she does good work but refuses to have it peer reviewed (a capital offense in the real world).

Sounds like you've burnt your bridges.

 

 

 

Goggles Pissano

I tend to agree that employers can get around hiring someone who is deemed litigous.  Most potential employers phone your previous employer to get an idea of whether they want to hire you or not.  They may not admit that they are refusing to hire you because of your litigous past.  They will just say that they found someone who was more qualified for the job, and it would be very difficult to prove discrimination.

However, there also exists a reasonable duty to accommodate on the basis of disability, and I think there is a justification to fight not getting hired, especially if you are qualified and your disability does not interfere with your ability to do your job properly.

It is no different than some companies only hiring male employees, or only white people.  If demographically the workforce does not adequately match the demographics of the outside community, then that company may be put into a position where they need to explain why they are hiring the way they are.

At the same time, whistleblowers and "litigous" people find a stiff uphill battle afterwards. It is not right.  It is just the way it is.

Aristotleded24

Sorry to hear of your difficulties, Fransesca. While I'm not privy to all the details, I would say that if you are sending applications and they are being rejected, I don't think you would have much recourse. There are far more job applicants than there are job openings in most fields, and prospective employers are in a position to be quite picky. There would unfortunately be no way to prove discrimination in this case.

Summer

Rightly or wrongly, I think most people prefer not to hire someone who is perceived as liltigious.  

pookie

Summer wrote:

Rightly or wrongly, I think most people prefer not to hire someone who is perceived as liltigious.  

 

And lawyers hate them more than most....unless they're paying clients.

mark_alfred

From the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest: 

Quote:

III.9.(d).(ii).O

§608 An employee who is discredited in public by the employer may be entitled to damages for defamation.

§609 Where an employer unjustly refuses to provide references, or provides a defamatory reference, making it difficult for the employee to find other employment, the employee is entitled to additional compensation.

ETA:  The above is employment law.  Also, from the Ontario Human Rights Code, see s. 8.  Regarding this section (which covers reprisal), the CED stated the following:

Quote:

IV.3.(a).(ix)

§216 It is discriminatory for an employer (or any other respondent, for example, a service provider) to retaliate against an employee for pursuing a human rights complaint. Unlike other subject-matter under the Ontario Human Rights Code, proof of retaliation requires the complainant to show that the respondent(s) "intended" to retaliate against him or her. A retaliation complaint may be upheld even if the original complaint is dismissed.

 

abnormal

mark_alfred, in the situation Francesca outlined in her opening post it's going to be incredibly tough to make a complaint under any of those sections "stick".

Since she's apparently not employed by her original employer the quoted section of the Human Rights Code wouldn't seem to apply (and it doesn't sound like she got any satisfaction from her original complaint to the HRC).

As for the sections of employment law that you quote, it sounds like the gossip mill has already taken care of "spreading the word" so there is no need for the previous employer to do or say anything.

For what it's worth I am aware of companies that simply provide references that confirm "So and so was employed by us in the role of XXX for the period AAA to BBB" and will not provide any other reference.  Of course that doesn't stop people at a potential employer from calling people at the original employer to ask for the down and dirty - if they try to run it thru HR they'll get the same response as the sentence I quoted.  If they call elsewhere in the company they might get something else.

Or as my former General Counsel told me (in regards to someone that we'd "asked to leave") - he's a nice guy so if anyone calls just tell them you'll happily go for a beer with him.  If they push about his work performance just repeat that statement.

Francesca Allan

abnormal wrote:

As for the sections of employment law that you quote, it sounds like the gossip mill has already taken care of "spreading the word" so there is no need for the previous employer to do or say anything.

I am quite sure this is the case and I think it's very, very unfair. Clearly, if you're discriminated against, you're better off not defending yourself. Could somebody please tell me what, then, is the point of the Human Rights Tribunal with respect to disability and employment?

abnormal wrote:

For what it's worth I am aware of companies that simply provide references that confirm "So and so was employed by us in the role of XXX for the period AAA to BBB" and will not provide any other reference.

Actually, part of our settlement agreement was that my previous employer provide me with a very nice (and accurate!) reference letter and they did so.

I will continue to assume that I can't even get my foot in the door because my previous employer maliciously told everybody that I had filed a claim (presumably without telling them that in fact I had a legitimate claim that they were forced to settle). Had I known then what I know now, I would have made secrecy a term of our settlement.

Francesca Allan

abnormal wrote:

Francesca, as it was elequently explained by a (very) senior lawyer in a front of a (very) senior immigration official - "Employers might not like my personality" - the fact that he was probably the best in his field in the world wasn't the issue - people might not want to work with him.

In a prior life one of my direct reports was more than competent but no-one in the office wanted to deal with her - she had a chip on her shoulder that resulted in my refusing to do her performance reviews without my boss present.  Her reputation followed her until she finally took a government job - even there her manager said that she does good work but refuses to have it peer reviewed (a capital offense in the real world).

Sounds like you've burnt your bridges. 

I'm sure you don't mean it, abnormal, but this post kind of reads like you think I was a loser employee. I was a fantastic employee!

Goggles Pissano

Francesca,

It may not have been your former employer who bad mouthed you.  It could have been the lawyer you hired. Its an old boy's club and they all gossip and talk amongst themselves. I would not trust any of them.

You can find someone who is very capable, ie very experienced in hiring people in say Human Resources to phone your former employer as though he/she is a potential employer considering you for employment, and you will be able to find out what kind of character reference you will be getting from your former employer.  It would have to be from a fake company from another community like in Vancouver or Victoria if you live in B.C.

I also don't think by law that you have to put down your entire work history on your resume. You can move to another community and don't even mention that part of your past on your resume. Don't lie if you are asked about the void in time, but don't elaborate either.  Just tell them that you would be able to supply a character reference if required. Also just say that there was a "misunderstanding".

If it gets to be really bad, then change your name.  If you went to school and have educational certificates/diplomas/degrees, etc. get the name changed on those as well. If your name is bad around town, then change it, and I am not joking either.  If you have your father's last name, then go by your mother's last name.  If you like your last name, then you can change it back again after a few years of good employment.

Go to the Human Rights Commission and tell them your problem.  They would know more about the specifics of the laws and remedies better than most of us. I would phone them and talk to them.

Go to a career counsellor.  Get a very good private one and not a run of the mill one. You get what you pay for and it is an investment in yourself.  Find someone who would be able to help you out with your situation and look for ways of talking your way through an interview and marketing yourself on a resume.

I would first talk to Human Rights and explain your dilema to them.

 

Francesca Allan

Wow, Goggles, such excellent advice. Thank you for taking the time. I will definitely have someone pretending to be a potential employer phone them and see what they say about me. As to the suggestion that it may have been my lawyer who was indiscreet, I don't think so. He was from a big firm in another town altogether.

Francesca Allan

abnormal wrote:

Sounds like you've burnt your bridges. 

How? By having a temporary nervous breakdown? Or by maintaining that my employer had no right to can me? I didn't burn any bridges. I was treated poorly and sought compensation. Silly me.

abnormal

Francesca Allan wrote:

abnormal wrote:

Sounds like you've burnt your bridges. 

How? By having a temporary nervous breakdown? Or by maintaining that my employer had no right to can me? I didn't burn any bridges. I was treated poorly and sought compensation. Silly me.

Unless you left something out of your earlier posts you didn't prevail in your human rights complaint but you managed to make the whole thing public.

In a small close knit professional community the gossip mill is extremely effective - everybody knows who was fired with cause, who was "asked" to resign (and generally why the "request" was made) and so forth.

 

Francesca Allan

abnormal wrote:

Unless you left something out of your earlier posts you didn't prevail in your human rights complaint but you managed to make the whole thing public.

What do you mean I didn't prevail? We came to a satisfactory settlement. My very experienced counsel maintained that, had we not settled, I would have won a tribunal hearing. Settlement was faster and simpler. I didn't "manage" to make the whole thing public. Your tone is very demeaning.

abnormal wrote:

In a small close knit professional community the gossip mill is extremely effective - everybody knows who was fired with cause, who was "asked" to resign (and generally why the "request" was made) and so forth.

Again, all your examples involve employees who were at fault. Is there anything at all in this thread that would you lead you to believe that I was at fault? And I agree that the gossip mill is there. My point is, however, that it was unprofessional and improper of them to say anything to anybody. They must have known that such gossip would diminish my chances of finding new employment.

And all of this is incidental to my purpose in posting this thread which was to comment on the unfairness of being punished for seeking to assert my legal rights.

Unionist

Francesca, having seen the subsequent discussion, I want to make an "exception" to my original comments.

As mark_alfred pointed out, some (maybe all) human rights codes prohibit "retaliating" against a person who has filed a complaint. Example from the [url=http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/H-6/FullText.html]federal human rights act[/url] (which wouldn't apply in your particular case):

Quote:
14.1 It is a discriminatory practice for a person against whom a complaint has been filed under Part III, or any person acting on their behalf, to retaliate or threaten retaliation against the individual who filed the complaint or the alleged victim.

Note that this clause only stops retaliation by the person charged in the complaint (e.g. your original employer) - not by other employers who may refuse to hire you for this very same reason.

In B.C., on the other hand, section 43 says:

Quote:
A person must not evict, discharge, suspend, expel, intimidate, coerce, impose any pecuniary or other penalty on, deny a right or benefit to or otherwise discriminate against a person because that person complains or is named in a complaint, gives evidence or otherwise assists in a complaint or other proceeding under this Code.

This clause is not restricted to a person charged.

So, for example, if someone refuses to hire you, and says straight out: "It's because of that complaint you filed against so-and-so" - that could (arguably) be seen as violating the B.C. act - but not the federal Canadian Human Rights Act.

Likewise, the Ontario code says:

Quote:

Reprisals

8.  Every person has a right to claim and enforce his or her rights under this Act, to institute and participate in proceedings under this Act and to refuse to infringe a right of another person under this Act, without reprisal or threat of reprisal for so doing. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 8.

Infringement prohibited

9.  No person shall infringe or do, directly or indirectly, anything that infringes a right under this Part. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19, s. 9.

So that too could be taken to apply to third parties who "indirectly" "infringe" on your right to "institute and participate in proceedings".

In all these three jurisdictions, however, I think that if your original employer could be shown to have blabbed to other prospective employers about your complaint or settlement, in way which could be reasonably seen as diminishing your employment opportunities, I think there's an argument for discrimination on the part of the original employer.

The tough part, of course, is proving anything.

 

Francesca Allan

Thanks, Unionist. At this point, my only "proof" is that it's damn strange that I can't find work in this field. Sounds weak, I know, but there is a huge demand for legal secretaries and assistants, especially experienced ones.

abnormal

Francesca Allan wrote:
And I agree that the gossip mill is there. My point is, however, that it was unprofessional and improper of them to say anything to anybody. They must have known that such gossip would diminish my chances of finding new employment.

Who is "they"?  It doesn't have to be your former employer - could be anyone, inside or outside the company, that saw that you had left or who was aware of what happened - as I said, the gossip mill is very effective - people do talk (and that applies everywhere from most junior file clerk on up).

 

Francesca Allan

abnormal wrote:

Francesca Allan wrote:
And I agree that the gossip mill is there. My point is, however, that it was unprofessional and improper of them to say anything to anybody. They must have known that such gossip would diminish my chances of finding new employment.

Who is "they"?  It doesn't have to be your former employer - could be anyone, inside or outside the company, that saw that you had left or who was aware of what happened - as I said, the gossip mill is very effective - people do talk (and that applies everywhere from most junior file clerk on up).

When I said "they," I was referring to my former employer. And, no, it couldn't be just "anyone" seeing that I had left and somehow then magically knowing about the legal action. From my side, the only people that knew were my lawyer and my husband and I really don't believe that either of them would have seen fit to spread the information around. Yes, people do talk but usually there has to be a nugget of information in there somewhere that they're talking about; simply leaving is not that nugget. I think it's reasonable to conclude that it's my former employer and I will be proceeding on that basis.

Would you do me a favour, abnormal? Would you ignore this thread, please? I find your posts aggressive and unhelpful. I'm not debating that the information got out there. I'm asking for help in providing ideas (as Unionist and others so helpfully did) to get a fucking job.

mark_alfred

Sounds like your former employer did write you a good reference letter.  Sounds too like you have experience and are very qualified, so why you've not even been given interviews is a mystery.  Consulting your very experienced counsel would likely be the best course of action.

 It is self-defeating to discuss   human rights in Canada; particularly human rights tribunals, without acknowledging the essential contradiction between any understanding of universal human rights and basic class/power  differential between workers and employers.  Not knowledging  that Canada is a  capitalist society leads people to  expect some sort of “fundamental justice” from the legal system, including human rights tribunals. Notwithstanding all the attractive language of  equality and  eliminating both direct and adverse impact discrimination the over whelming majority of the s 15 Supreme Court case law denies applicants claims. The same is true in human rights tribunals.

 Moreover, it is nearly impossible to prove that someone was not hired because of discrimination; particularly in small enterprises. In the large employers it may be possible to make a claim based on the statistical distribution of their current employees but in a small firm it is nearly possible to ”prove “  why someone was not hired. If you look at the successful human rights case law you will see that most  successful discrimination cases work on  discriminatory layoffs or discriminatory rehires. 

 This entire discussion also ignores the fact that it is completely legal for an employer not to hire someone because they don't like them.  if someone doesn't like me  for personal reasons that doesn't make it a human rights violation; even within the limited parameters of Canadian law.  if they don't hire me because of my gender, age, religion, colour, sexual orientation, national origin or disability that would be discrimination. However  I can only "prove" it because they said something stupid that was overheard or in writing, or because it's a large employer  and their labour forceShows dramatically skewed hiring practices.

 

Francesca Allan

[email protected] wrote:

This entire discussion also ignores the fact that it is completely legal for an employer not to hire someone because they don't like them.

No, I think it's more that this fact wasn't explicitly stated because it's too obvious to state. This is another example of what I objected to about abnormal's posts: the insinuation that I'm not finding work because I'm not likeable or there is something else wrong with me. The fact is that not being likeable was never a problem prior to my human rights complaint and, further, not being likeable wouldn't really explain the absence of an interview. It would be hard to accept that I was unlikeable based on my cover letter, resume, and numerous excellent reference letters, all of which are presented before I am rejected prior to the interview stage.

[email protected] wrote:

if someone doesn't like me  for personal reasons that doesn't make it a human rights violation; even within the limited parameters of Canadian law.

Yes it probably does, if what they don't like about me is that I filed a human rights complaint in response to a wrongful dismissal based on discrimination.

Given the demand for employees in this field, together with my qualifications, it is hard to draw any other conclusion.

Thanks for the put down, though; it was most edifying.

Unionist

[email protected] wrote:

 It is self-defeating to discuss   human rights in Canada; particularly human rights tribunals, without acknowledging the essential contradiction between any understanding of universal human rights and basic class/power  differential between workers and employers.

Yeah, we're self-defeating. I totally forgot we're living under capitalism, where it's pointless to fight for human rights. Appreciate the insight.

 

Quote:
This entire discussion also ignores the fact that it is completely legal for an employer not to hire someone because they don't like them.

It's amazing that we wasted our time even starting the discussion. Thanks again for telling us what our entire discussion has ignored.

By the way, when Francesca asks for advice and assistance in the disability forum, it's always advisable to put up or shut up.

 

Francesca Allan

Thanks for the support, Unionist.

I deeply regret starting this thread and am feeling quite blue about some of the responses.

The answer is to be strategicin how we figh the state.. Limiting legal battles to courtrooms is often not successful. I believe that legal rights can only be established if they are part of a public political campaign.

On a practical leval my advice would be to upgrade you skills by going back to law school or as a paralegal . I went back to school after I was 40 years old after I was abandoned by my union.

Francesca Allan

I don't think my skills are the issue.

No the issue is to be certified to become your own boss.

Francesca Allan

[email protected] wrote:
No the issue is to be certified to become your own boss.

How about just being treated fairly? Would that offend you?

It did when I was a abandoned by the union after standing up and doing what was asked of me. However, I wanted to be useful more than I wanted justice. So I went back to school.

Francesca Allan

Thanks for your oft-repeated advice (you posted 6? times), but I already am useful. I don't need to go back to school; I'm abundantly qualified.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Oh Francesca, your situation just sounds awful. My heart is breaking reading your posts. And I'd absolutely agree that many of posts in this thread are worse than unhelpful.

[url=[/url]">http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php][img]http://www.freesmileys.org/s...

On a more practical note, I'd agree with the advice from Goggles, and don't have anything else to add.

Goggles Pissano

I think we can feel relieved that we have Rosalie Abella sitting as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and not some of the posters on this thread.

Goggles Pissano

Yes it IS discrimination to not hire someone because you do not like them.  You are basing your hiring practices on some criteria other than the applicant's knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that are relevant for them doing their jobs. The Federal and Provincial Human Rights Codes have outlined categories of people who are the most vulnerable to discriminatory hiring practices.  Yet there are people who fall outside these listed categories who are equally being discriminated against and marginalized.  The fact that they are not listed in the code does not make it any less discrimination and any less harmful.

For instance, SIZE is not listed as a category in any Human Rights Code in Canada. Very large women especially are severely marginalized and vulnerable to negative hiring practices, especially in front line jobs like receptionist, secretary, and other service jobs where narrowly defined views about proper image prevail.

I remember watching on the news about 10 years ago where a guy lost his job at the carnival because of his size. He went to the provincial Human Rights Commission and filed a complaint and won.  BUT, the Chief Commissioner of that province`s Human Rights Commission erroneously stressed on national TV that what happened to him was NOT discrimination. He said that the Human Rights Commission takes a dim view to this type of firing, but that it was not discrimination.

What he SHOULD have said was that size is not listed as a category under the Human Rigts Code as a legal basis for protection against discrimination by the Human Rights Commission. That would have been a true statement.  However, to say that it was not discrimination is false. It is also false to assume that the suffering and hardship is less simply because Canada does not recognize size as a criteria needing special protection under our existing Human Rights laws.

To claim otherwise is to falsely and erroneously assume that before the Human Rights Codes in Canada recognized gender as a basis for discrimination that discrimination against women in the workforce simply did not take place. Women were not hired for many jobs, but that somehow was not discrimination because there were no Human Rights laws to say so. We certainly do not need other people to redefine for us what discrimination really is in Canada. It is also very sad when even a former Chief Commissioner of a provincial Human Rights Commission needs to be educated on what exactly discrimination really is. 

FALLACY No. 2.

Canada has Human Rights Codes because we are really nice people and want these codes in law to reflect our openness to people of diversity and to show the world how open and tolerant we are.  NOT.  The more a group of people are hated and reviled, the more they need these protections entrenched in law and actively enforced.

FALLACY No. 3.

The Supreme Court of Canada is not kind to Human Rights cases.  Rosalie Abella is one of our nation`s Supreme Court Justices. In the Wikipedia bio on Rosalie Abella, it states:

 

Quote:
"She is considered one of Canada's foremost experts on human rights law, and has taught at McGill Law School in Montreal.

Justice Abella presided over the Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, where she coined the term employment equity, a strategy for reducing barriers in employment faced by women, visible minorities, people with disabilities, and aboriginal peoples." 

 

 

Goggles Pissano

Francesca,

Another way to find out if you have been character assassinated by your former employer is to find a clairevoyant who would be able to tell you what transpired at your former employers' business office.

I used to be very skeptical of this sort of thing. I believed that some people had abilities, but that they were few and far between and that most people who offer their services are frauds out to swindle you.

You know that I am a psychiatric survivor and am a survivor of mind games by incompetent counsellors. In fact, I am an extreme case in that category. In recent years, some clairvoyants have come out of the closet to let me know that they know about my past and what I have gone through.  They want their anonymity respected but they felt the need to let me know that they know about my past and that they understand. Now, if I have a problem, I go to clairvoyants for intuitive counselling because they are the only ones who know how to work with me.

You can expect to pay about $150.00 for an hour session.  You can do it in person or over the phone.  They would be able to tell you if your former employer poisoned your name before the settlement or afterwards as well.  That is relevant because the timing of the gossip determines whether he lived up to the secrecy of the settlement or not. YOu would not be able to use any of this as evidence against your former employer, but it will give you some peace of mind knowing what really happened.  When you know, you no longer wonder, and then you can start working on closure and moving on with your life.

If this interests you, I can direct you to one or two very good ones.  I will not disclose their names on this thread, but if you PM me, I will give you their contact information.

 

pookie

I assume the repeated posts were a site glitch.  The mechanics here are pretty bad.

Francesca, it's probably impractical, but have you thought about sending out your stuff slightly revised and using a different name, just to see what happens?  Maybe to a single employer.  

Are you in a very small town?  

pookie

Never mind.  Couldn't get the words to do what I wanted. :)

Francesca Allan

pookie wrote:

Francesca, it's probably impractical, but have you thought about sending out your stuff slightly revised and using a different name, just to see what happens?  Maybe to a single employer.  

That's an idea, I could use my married name for instance. The thing is though then I wouldn't be able to use my reference letters.

pookie wrote:

Are you in a very small town?  

No.

***

And LT, that was incredibly sweet, thank you. Made my morning.

***

Goggles, thanks for your insight. As the sister of a woman who died of an eating disorder, I actually do believe that obesity can be a disability. I think a lot of people would disagree, though, thinking it's under a person's own control and if they're fat, then that's their problem. That is simply not true for some people who wrestle with this, however, for them it can be more like an unmanageable compulsion. I really don't see myself hiring a clairvoyant; I just can't make myself believe in that stuff.

Unionist

Goggles Pissano wrote:

Yes it IS discrimination to not hire someone because you do not like them.  You are basing your hiring practices on some criteria other than the applicant's knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that are relevant for them doing their jobs.

It's also discrimination to hire someone based on their "knowledge, skills, abilities" etc. It's just not unlawful discrimination. Even though, in real life, hiring people based on experience and qualifications often masks discrimination against youth, the poor, persons of colour, women, and other forms of discrimination which actually are unlawful. I've never been a big defender of hiring based on "merit" alone. I support affirmative action programs.

Quote:
For instance, SIZE is not listed as a category in any Human Rights Code in Canada. Very large women especially are severely marginalized and vulnerable to negative hiring practices, especially in front line jobs like receptionist, secretary, and other service jobs where narrowly defined views about proper image prevail.

Not the best example. Obesity, including perceived obesity, has been recognized as a prohibited ground of discrimination and a requirement to accommodate - for instance, [url=http://canlii.ca/en/on/onhrt/doc/2012/2012hrto1675/2012hrto1675.html]in Ontario[/url]. People need to stand up and fight these cases.

A better example (IMHO) would have been hiring and promotion of persons based on their personal appearance, or "attractiveness", etc. This is one of the most insidious forms of the subordination of women, yet it's very difficult to situate it within discrimination on the basis of gender.

I agree with you about the courts' role in defending human rights, by the way. They've done a far better job than the politicians. I have little time for arguments (earlier in this thread) that say we need to get rid of capitalism and then these problems will go away. They won't. And we don't need to wait either.

 

 

pookie

To continue the discussion, and I hope Francesca doesn't mind b/c the following definitely is not about her...

So much of the hiring process is about social confirmity, about the degree to which you can be classified as "normal" or not.

Some people may be a little "off".  Like, they interrupt you all the time.  Don't have the best social graces.  Laugh too loudly.  You think "No way could I work with this person.  Next."

It's possible that these traits are connected to an underlying issue - anxiety, hyperactivity - that could be considered similar to a disability.  If so, the duty to accommodate logically would be expected to kick in.  Except it doesn't.  

So much of the hiring process is based on unarticulable things.  You just, for lack of a better term, "like" a particular candidate better than another.  if the basis for that preference is a prohibited ground, of course it's a recognized problem (if near impossible to establish).  But if it's one of these other more idiosyncratic issues (tougher personality), I don't think anyone in the system really cares.

 

 

pookie

Francesca Allan wrote:

pookie wrote:

Francesca, it's probably impractical, but have you thought about sending out your stuff slightly revised and using a different name, just to see what happens?  Maybe to a single employer.  

That's an idea, I could use my married name for instance. The thing is though then I wouldn't be able to use my reference letters.

pookie wrote:

Are you in a very small town?  

No.

If you are not in a really small community, I think this becomes more feasible.

Re: the reference letters, do you have to include them with the application itself?  If so, perhaps you could ask for them to be re-written using your married name.

If they don't need to be included, just offer to provide them later. At that time, you could just inform your referees to please expect a call from someone using your married name.  

ETA: trying to avoid you ever having to disclose your original surname

The multiple posts are technical problem with this machine.

My posts are based on 15 years of trying to litigate discrimination based on cognitive and perceptual disabilities. Most of the time, not withstanding the case, the rhetoric of the decision,or the clear need the cases were denied. I also tried to use class action formations to challenge discrimination In access to disability programs and housing, including TCHC. They all failed.

Thus today my legal tactics are changing .

As to the going back to school, I did not propose it as a means to knowledge but as a prerequisite for the licence. The licence lets you set up your own business. Owning your own job has advantages.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Cripes. It should go without saying that those who don't want to respond to this thread with a charitable spirit shouldn't be posting in it. That means posting to blame the victim over a series of incidents you know nothing about and also posting to exercise some perrenial gripe over unions or some such.

Direct or contextual advice is the most helpful. Please try to stick to that, thanks.

Francesca, your situation sounds awful and incredibly frustrating. I hope you find the strength and approach to find a way out of it!

Goggles Pissano

"Obesity" is a medicalized term that does not mean anything except that it is a reference to someone's size. People who are really large are called, "morbidly obese" ie. on the verge of death at any moment, which isn't true by the way.  These are pseudoscientific words used for no other purpose than to demean and degrade people who are large.  Large people are not walking and talking "pseudo medical conditions" just like gay people do not like to be called "homosexual".  "Homosexuality" was considered a medical condition in need of treatment based on negative social prejudices whereas "heterosexual" does not mean anything. I think we need to get away from using medical terminology which does not mean anything on its own but is used as a slur to demean and degrade people based on their size.

Large people are NOT disabled unless they are disabled.

Terry Poulton in her book NO FAT CHICKS, and I don't have the book beside me right now to give you the exact page, referred to a human rights case in Saskatchewan where a large nurse or nurses aid was terminated from her job because of her size. She filed a discrimination lawsuit for wrongful dismissal citing her size as a "disability" since "size" is not recognized on its own merit as a category for discrimination. Her employer argued in court that she was NOT disabled and was able to do her job very well but that they were terminating her employment based on her size.  The court ruled that she was NOT disabled and was perfectly able to do her job properly so that she did not qualify for claiming discrimination on the basis of disability. The nurse lost her case and was justifiably terminated for being "large".

SIZE and APPEARANCE both need to be formally listed as categories in all the Human Rights codes in Canada.

I know that this is happening in the United States and could come to Canada soon, but police officers have been threatened with job termination unless they lost weight. Their job performance was not suffering, these policies were simply put into place by politicians.  Social services and Family Protection services have forcefully removed children from their homes and placed them in foster homes because of the children's size.

Goggles Pissano

Francesca, you can do what Pookie said and just say, "references will be supplied upon request".

Francesca Allan

Goggles Pissano wrote:

Francesca, you can do what Pookie said and just say, "references will be supplied upon request".

Yeah, I'll probably do that. It's just that they're pretty impressive and they'd certainly help my applications. Just thinking out loud here, but I wonder if it would be okay to quote portions of my reference letters in my cover letter rather than providing them.

Goggles Pissano

Unionist wrote:

I support affirmative action programs.

Canada actually does not have affirmative action.  We have "employment equity" which is similar but different.  Here is an article which highlights the difference.  Employment Equity. The United States has affirmative action and they have "quotas".  Canada does not have "quotas", but targets and goals.

 

oldgoat

I went through and deleted all of Shartal's superflouous posts for the sake of neatness..  Must'v been about a dozen of them.  I had assumed she had passed out with her forehead on the enter button.

 

Now.  I find that any posts here which even mildly suggest that Francesca's problem is an inability to sort of "pull up her socks" and move on or suggesting in any way she's at fault or deficient here to be useless, at best unkind, and at least for me offensive. 

Sounds like Francesca is a person who doesn't like to be screwed over, and won't take it lying down.  I'm another.  Good for you!

I wish I had some real practical advice.  I like the above mentioned suggestion of pretending to be another employer and find out what's really been said, or applying under a different name to compare reactions to applying under your own name.

I was in a somewhat similar position about 18 years ago when I was fired from a job in the Children's mental health field. It was my last really really bad depressive episode and I had a really hard time reacting to the new meds,  but I did come around.  They canned me when I returned in much better shape.  Sure I moved on, but not til after I sued the fuckers, won, and cost my former supervisor her position.  It was two pretty bad years though before I got back in the game professionally, and I'm actually better off career-wise than if I had stayed.

Anyway Francesca, hugs and my thoughts are with you.  You are clearly tough and shall prevail.

 

 

 

 

 

Goggles Pissano

Francesca Allan wrote:
I really don't see myself hiring a clairvoyant; I just can't make myself believe in that stuff.

I understand. These people would be able to let you know what you are dealing with and give you pointers on where to go for help.

There are a lot of snake oil salespeople fakes out there, but there are those who have the talent and genuinely do care. We are all born intuitive, but most of us lose it when we are still babies.  Some keep it all their lives.  Those of us who lose it can get it back with years of yoga and/or meditation.  We are all born with it, we just have to learn again how to tap into it. Buddhist monks are ususally enlightened and have this ability.  You can find one of them to talk to about intuition...that is, if you want to.  I understand your skepticism.

Three years ago, I was wrongfully dismissed from my job.  I was excellent at what I did, and my best friend betrayed me and had me fired simply to "please" a guy that I was having problems with and she really liked. It took me over ten months to get over the shock, and then about 1 1/2 years to fully settle down over that incident. It would have taken me much longer if I hadn't sought the help from a clairvoyant who explained to me what had happened and why. The not knowing what happened and why can really eat away at you and it can linger and fester for a very long time.

It is a resource that is out there, and they do have the ability to help you. I'm just letting you know.

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