Human Rights Advisory Services

Human Rights Advisory Services
Human Rights Advisory Services

Excuse: Complainant does not work here

Bottom Line

An employer must ensure that applicants, as well as current employees,  do not face workplace discrimination.

Allegation of Workplace Discrimination

In Nelson v Lakehead University, the complainant applied for a full-time tenure track assistant professor position in the Faculty of Business Administration with Lakehead University. He was interviewed along with other candidates.  During deliberations, one of the Committee members was alarmed to hear fellow committee members mentioning the complainant's age (52) as well as the outdated nature of his research. 

Failure to Respond 

She wrote a letter of concern to the Dean, who did not investigate the allegations.  The Dean claimed that the allegations were not founded.  When the complainant did not get the job, the committee member informed him of her concerns.  He filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging:

  1. that his age had been directly raised during the selection process;
  2. that the requirement for recent/current research experience had an adverse impact on him because of his age (52);  and
  3. that the University and the Dean failed to take reasonable steps to investigate and address allegations of discrimination in the job competition process and condoned a discriminatory act by proceeding with the vote despite the allegations.

Ruling by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal

The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal found that the University did not discriminate against the complainant, either directly or indirectly, on the basis of his age during the selection process. However,  it found that the response to the complaint of discrimination by the committee member was inadequate and that the Dean and the University failed to take reasonable steps to investigate the allegations.