​Jobs only for white men?

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An Ontario company that told a job applicant it “only hires white men” must pay damages to the man it discriminated against in a recent Ontario Human Rights Tribunal decision.

Ottawa Valley Cleaning and Restoration will pay $8000 plus interest to Malek Bouraoui, who applied for a job with the company in June last year.

"The respondent persistently ridiculed the applicant because of his race, colour and place of origin," the tribunal said in its decision last week. "I am satisfied that the applicant was deeply hurt, shocked and humiliated by the respondent's comments and that he was denied employment based on a number of prohibited grounds."

After applying for a job, Bouraoui said he received a call from a man named Jesse, who asked what country he was from and whether he was white or black.

Bouraoui, who is black, testified that he told the man that he was not from Canada, but was too shocked to answer the other question about his race. He later received a text message from Jesse, telling him to "try learning English you will have better luck I don't hire foreners [sic] I keep the white man working."

After Bouraoui texted back that the comments were discriminatory and he would file a complaint, he said he received another text message from Jesse:

"I didn't say anything that is racist all I sad (sic) was I don't hire foreners (sic) and I hire white men so stop texting me take it how ever you want if you text me again it will be hearasment (sic) and there is no law for what I said it's called freedom of speech in Canada maybe you would know that if you were a Canadian good by (sic) stop wasting my time I run a business I don't have for you get a life."

Another text told Bouraoui "go file a complaint he will probably be a white man and he will probably laugh at you and tell you to go away."

Adjudicator Genevieve Debane accepted Bouraoui's printout of the text message exchange. He established that the texts and phone call were sent by Jesse, either an employee or agent of the company, which is liable for his actions, she said.

The company did not file a response or participate in the case.
  • Elaine on 2014-09-10 12:10:16 PM

    To answer your "Where was HR?" question, I would guess Jesse is a one-man show. Not fair to blame HR for Jesse's actions. Let's blame Jesse if we want to point fingers.

  • Joanne on 2014-09-10 12:16:22 PM

    OMG. I hope other employers see/hear of this and understand that is why they should have an HR dept. Bad PR for that company.

  • Jennifer on 2014-09-10 1:49:14 PM

    Having an HR Dept may stop the employer from making statements to applicants, but it doesn't necessarily stop the behaviour. I worked for a woman's organization and the director wouldn't listen to me when I told her she couldn't discriminate and hire only non-white females. She went ahead and did as she pleased. I was left in a position of believing that she was breaking the law, but not being able to convince her to stop doing it. Needless to say my tenure with that organization was very short-lived.

  • Karen on 2014-09-10 1:56:33 PM

    "Where was HR?" HR provides information, sometimes protection, and often much needed guidance. HR department aside, I don't see how having one would make a difference in this person's outlook. HR cannot force individuals to behave and respect fellow human beings. The comments of this Jesse character are those of an ignorant, illiterate racist. HR can't fix that and PR can only dress it up and make it smell better than it really is.

  • Buck on 2014-09-10 2:11:13 PM

    I have left the field of HR work due to the discriminatory practice of hiring mostly women and being the only (white) male in the room and getting the look at an HR meeting when providing comments -who brought the dude.

  • Buck on 2014-09-10 2:17:25 PM

    I have left the HR field due to the discriminatory practice of hiring mostly females, being the only (white)man in the room, listening to inappropriate talk about spa visits, etc. and getting the "who brought the dude" stare by an HR committee/ meeting when providing input. I got tired of it and you certainly feel unwelcome.

  • Zak on 2014-09-10 10:59:28 PM

    I am glad that the candidate complained to the OHRT, in this case they made the right decision based on the evidence given. What shocks me is how blatant the bias was communicated to the candidate.

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