The Quebec Human Rights Tribunal has ordered a company to pay
moral damages to a rejected work applicant to whom questions
related to his religion were asked during an employment interview.
The reason the work applicant was not hired was because he did not
have enough relevant experience. In the decision, Commission des droits
de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse c. Systématix
Technologies de l'information
inc. (November 26, 2010), the
Tribunal discussed whether questions asked to the work applicant,
such as "Are you a Muslim?" or "Do you practice your
religion?", violated section 18.1 of the Québec Charter of Human Rights
and Freedoms. In the analysis, the Tribunal
determined that emphasis should not be placed on who spoke first
about religion, but should rather be placed on assessing the whole
of the interview. In the present case, the interviewer had asked
several questions related to religion, mostly to discuss religious
restrictions that some Muslim work applicants had with regards to
working for companies such as Société des Alcools du
Québec (Québec Alcohol Corporation) or Loto
Québec. The Tribunal came to the conclusion that a
reasonable person in the work applicant's position would have
felt compelled to answer the questions related to his religion.
Therefore, the fact that the work applicant accepted to answer such
questions did not constitute a waiver of his protected right under
section 18.1 of the Québec Charter. In the Tribunal's
opinion, the fact such questions were asked is sufficient to prove
the violation of the work applicant's right, unless the
questions had been necessary to evaluate a skill or quality
required for employment. The Tribunal also noted that it was
prohibited to ask such questions out of curiosity, to break the ice
or to lighten the interview process. In this case, the Tribunal
ordered the company to pay $ 7 500 in moral damages to the work
applicant for the discrimination he suffered. The Tribunal also
ordered the company to forward a copy of the decision to the
persons in charge of recruiting and to adopt an anti-discrimination
policy approved by the Commission des droits de la personne (the
Human Rights Commission) to govern the selection process of work
applicants in the future.
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