In Canada, human rights are guaranteed under the federal Charter of Human Rights, as well as under provincial legislation, such as the British Columbia Human Rights Code. The premise that forms the basis of these laws is that all people should be treated fairly, consistently, and in a dignified manner. In order to protect both your and your candidate’s rights in the hiring process, it is important to be familiar with the fundamental principles of human rights legislation and how it applies in the context of job interviews. You must also ensure that the questions you ask are not in any way as discriminatory.

A component of human resources management is the practice of legal discrimination. For example, you may decide to hire a person who has at least five years in marketing because the job requires that level of expertise. If two people apply for the job and only one has this qualification, you can legally discriminate. In other words, you have the right to offer the job to the best candidate.

However, there are areas in which you must not discriminate. The most familiar ones are race, sex, age, religion, and place of origin. (When hiring be sure to review the legislation for your jurisdiction.) Specifically the BC Human Rights Code sets out the following list of protected grounds that you cannot ask about or discriminate against:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Religion
  • Place of origin
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Family status
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Political belief
  • Criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the employment or to the intended employment of that person

Interview questions should avoid these protected grounds and focus strictly on determining the applicant’s ability to perform the essential duties of the available position.

For more information on complying with human rights legislation, the following resources are available:



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Human Resources in the Food Service and Hospitality Industry Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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