Except were there is genuine occupational requirement, it is discriminatory and contrary to The Human Rights Act for a person or an employer to refuse to employ or to dismiss a person, or to discriminate against a person with respect to any term or condition of employment because of the person's:
- Political belief
- Marital status
- Place of origin
- Physical or mental disability
- Sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy)
- Conviction for a criminal offense or summary
- conviction charge that is unrelated to the employment
It is also contrary to The Human Rights Act for an employer to pay less to one sex for work that is similar or substantially similar to work performed by the other sex. If you are asked an illegal question it is important not only to know your rights but also to be able to respond to the question with dignity and assertiveness.
If it is an employer you want to work for, indicate a willingness to demonstrate your suitability for the job without compromising your rights.Respond with a counter question (examples follow)
"Could you tell me how my (age, marital status, place of birth, religion, etc.) might have any bearing on the job I am applying for?"
"That's a very interesting question. I'd be happy to answer it if you could tell me the reason for asking it."
If the employer does not mention a topic but you feel it could be an unstated concern, you may want to tactfully bring the subject out into the open and put doubts to rest.Examples of illegal questions and how to answer:
How old are you? Older worker - mention: experience, fitness, flexibility, current knowledge, maturity, stability, no child-care commitments, common sense, reputation and business/clientcontacts. There may be an objection that you are over qualified, or may expect a higher salary or pension - mention: (If it is true) that, at this point in your career, job satisfaction is a higher value for you than a higher profile/higher paying position and this is what you want to be doing.
Are you married? If yes and you have children, assure the employer that you have reliable child care with back-up for emergencies, that you do not take company time to make private calls and that you pride yourself on punctuality. If yes and you have no children, assure the employer that you both hope to stay settled in the area. If no, assure the employer of your reliability and some community involvement. Emphasize that you are free to do overtime and travel for the company, if that is true for you.
How long have you been in Canada? Where are you from? Immigrants: Relate your answer to current Canadian markets, trends and knowledge and the employer's immediate need.
If you are a Canadian Citizen or have been here awhile, tell the employer. Mention your Canadian work experience or training, ideally in this community or province. If it is in another province, in the United States, United Kingdom or in an overseas organization with North American affiliations, mention it as well. You may have excellent overseas credentials from a superior academic or technical institution that would impress an employer. This information will likely be unfamiliar to the average Canadian employer. Try to attend a Canadian upgrading refresher course from a recognized training institution. Join a North American Association for your occupation if there is one.
Mention your up to date, current occupational and market knowledge. Include your study of related by-laws, codes, acts and government regulations as well as product and service knowledge and trends. Talk about your transferable skills with confidence. Mention your ability to learn quickly. Mention work challenges that you have successfully met that would likely occur in Canada.
How long have you been out of prison? This question may occur if you have chosen to tell the employer about your criminal record (Be sure you know about the procedure for receiving a pardon for a criminal record). Mention any of your good work references. Assure the employer of your determination to prove yourself. Mention that you can't take any chances and that you will probably be more loyal and honest than most other employees.
How long have you been off alcohol/drugs? If the employer knows you have had an addiction, point out that you have recovered and you don't take alcohol or drugs. Mention if you are in a support program. Emphasize that you bring work skills and commitment to succeed. Point out good references and past achievements.