Sexist Illegal Job Ad from Toronto
Toronto web firm prefers ‘female candidates’ for receptionist job
Job posting by Vestra Inet contravenes the Ontario Human Rights Code, employment lawyer says.
A Toronto-based Internet solutions company is raising eyebrows with its job posting for a social media content writer and search engine optimization specialist.
The job at Vestra Inet, according to an ad posted on LinkedIn earlier this month, includes “the responsibilities of a receptionist, so female candidates are preferred.”
A spokesperson for Vestra Inet, described on its website as a “premier Toronto Web Design company,” declined to answer questions from the Star on Monday or to comment on the ad.
A few hours later, the firm wrote a message on Facebook. “Several individuals have found the wording of the ad to be offensive, and we want to assure everyone that we did not mean to discriminate against any particular gender or group,” the statement said.
“Vestra Inet is a company that believes in promoting diversity. Our staff currently consists of employees of various genders and ethnicities. Above all, Vestra Inet values knowledge and talent.”
Howard Levitt, a labour and employment lawyer at Levitt Grosman in Toronto, said the language in the posting contravenes the law in Ontario.
“It’s not merely politically incorrect in terms of typecasting people into certain gender roles, but the (Ontario) Human Rights Code makes it illegal to advertise based on gender,” he said.
“It’s simply out of touch and out of legal reality in 2015, or even for that matter 1995.”
People on social media were having a field day with the ad. “GUYS we did it! We travelled back in time to 1950! Oh… wait, no, that’s just a sexist job (description),” wrote Twitter user Lauren Souch.
Others expressed anger and shock, and pledged to steer clear of Vestra Inet.
“Can safely say that there is absolutely no way that @Vestra_Inet will ever get any business from me or my company,” tweeted Andrew Wencer.
Section 23 of the Ontario Human Rights Code states that employers can’t hire or advertise job qualifications that are based on a “prohibited ground of discrimination,” such as gender, race, age or sexual orientation. If gender is listed, there must be a “reasonable” explanation based on the nature of the job.
In the case of Vestra Inet, Levitt said he’s confident the posting breaks the rules.
“If a man applied for the job, he’d have a great case right off the bat. If he didn’t get the job, the human rights tribunal could order them to hire him and, of course, Exhibit 1 would be this ad,” he said. “It would be the smoking gun.”