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Human Rights and the Hiring Process

At first, Mr. Cinema seems to be treading the path towards that obvious bit of movie moralizing. Zhou is a caring father who clearly loves his wife Ying (Teresa Mo) and their son Chong, but his love for China may be greater. He’s always willing to help others before his own family, especially his fellow leftists, as well as neighbors and friends, who he’s not above lending – or giving – money to. Zhou’s penchant for handing out cash isn’t the best thing for his family, however. Their life is already quite austere, with the family’s savings going towards the basics, plus the possibility of Zhou’s long-desired journey to Tiananmen Square. But life in Hong Kong seems to require more than Zhou can provide; Chong naturally is attracted to Hong Kong’s increasing materialism, and even Ying desires one day to own a private flat. The family currently lives on a cheap rooftop, and as the years pass and Hong Kong’s fortunes rise, a steady stream of neighbors leaves the rooftop for a better life. But not Zhou, whose steadfastness to his values is as maddening as it is admirable. Chong grows up (as an adult, he’s played by Ronald Cheng), and bemoans his poor education in a leftist school, as well as his lack of anything resembling upward mobility. His life becomes one of odd jobs and get-rich-quick schemes, many illustrating and even lampooning the fast-paced lives of working class Hong Kong residents. However, luck is an absent mistress for Chong; Zhou donates Chong’s tuition money

Employers are familiar with their duties and obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”) when it comes to managing their employees, or at least they should be. However, many employers are not aware that the Code places duties and obligations on them during the hiring process as well.

The Code provides that every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to employment without being discriminated against because of the person’s race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age, record of offences, marital status, family status or handicap.

This right to equal treatment with respect to employment refers to all aspects of employment, including the hiring process. In fact, the Code specifically prohibits discrimination in regards to employment advertising, employment application forms and any employment interviews. Employers who are not careful with respect to their hiring process may be liable for violations of the Code and, as a result, may be forced to pay compensation to a prospective employee for lost earnings or job opportunities and even damages for mental anguish that the prospective employee has suffered.

Set out below are some things to keep in mind when you are planning to hire a new employee.


Recruitment is often the first step in the hiring process and advertising, whether in the newspaper, a trade journal or even on a billboard (recruitment method employers often use). A well designed advertisement can attract qualified candidates while, at the same time, discourage unqualified candidates. However, advertisements that attempt to screen or restrict candidates, or otherwise suggest a preference for a certain type of candidate, on a basis that is discriminatory are unlawful and can expose the employer to liability.

It is important when designing an advertisement to use language that is not discriminatory, but gender-neutral and inclusive. Below are some examples of discriminatory language:

an advertisement that states that the employer is looking for “young and ambitious” candidates rather than simply “ambitious”

an employer looking “for a qualified man” to fill the position rather than a “qualified candidate”

an advertisement for a “junior employee” rather than for someone to fill a “junior position”

an opening for a person whose “first language is English” rather than someone who is “English speaking”

searching for an “able-bodied worker”

Where the advert is placed is also an important consideration. It is better to place an advert in a place where a broad range of qualified candidates will have access to it rather than a place where only a limited segment of the population can see it. For example, posting an advert only in the men’s washroom at a golf and country club may be seen as discriminatory.

Employment agencies are also bound by the Code and employers can not use agencies to filter out applicants based on a discriminatory ground.


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