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The Interview – Can an Employer Ask If a Candidate Has Children?

October 2, 2002
by Israel Foulon LLP

Question: We are seeking to fill a secretarial position that requires the employee to work overtime hours on a regular basis. Is there a problem with asking any potential new hire whether or not she has any family obligations (such as children), which might prevent her from fulfilling the requirements of the job?

Answer: Provincial human rights legislation prevents employers from discriminating against potential new employees during the hiring process. In particular, a person’s marital or family status is a prohibited ground of discrimination and therefore, as a matter of caution, questions about whether or not the potential new hire has a family or children should be considered off-limits. This will guard against a potential complaint for discrimination in hiring. A more appropriate approach for you to take might be to simply ask whether or not, if hired, the employee would have a problem with working overtime on a regular basis. This would accomplish what you are seeking without opening yourself up to a possible human rights complaint.

Peter Israel is the senior partner in the Toronto law firm of Israel Foulon LLP – Employment and Labour Lawyers. He can be reached at 416-640-1550 or pi@israelfoulon.com. A version of this article originally appeared in the Carswell publication, Canadian Employment Law Today


Legal Disclaimer

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice, which in all circumstances must be tailored to the specific facts of any problem. You should obtain a proper legal consultation in order to determine how this article applies to your specific situation. Please feel free to contact Israel Foulon LLP to learn more at 416-640-1550.