Do Your Job Ads Discriminate Against the Poor and the Disabled?

Evelina Silveira, President Diversity At Work in London Inc.

It is hard enough finding a job these days, but what many recruiters may not realize is that they could be placing unnecessary barriers in the way of good candidates applying for jobs.

With the type of work I do, I frequently  find myself going through job boards looking for trends.  Lately, I have noticed how a position that once covered a small area is now responsible for an entire region.  For example, instead of a human services worker just covering London, Ontario they may need to cover the counties as well.  The job may be part-time and on a contract basis.  I am seeing more jobs requiring a drivers’ licence even when the employee is not required to travel outside of the city or leave the office everyday.

Adding a requirement of a driver’s licence these days, can  discriminate against the poor and people with disabilities who do not drive.  When I see how wages have been lowered in many cases during this recession, combined with the increasing amount of contract work versus permanent work, it is quite feasible that there will be a lot of people out there who cannot afford to buy a car for their jobs, or even be able to keep the one they have. A friend of mine was offered a part-time job with a local organization and when she had to tell them she did not have a car to use for the job, they denied her the opportunity.  This by no means was a high paying job and with a little creativity on both the employer and candidate’s side she could have been hired and she would have been the best candidate.

With our increasing emphasis on workplace inclusivity and reducing barriers to employment, employers need to critically examine whether a driver’s licence and access to a car is truly necessary.  Obviously there are some jobs where both will be required, but in most cases they probably are not.

Ask the prospective employee how will they get around without having a vehicle?  They may have easy access to public transportation and are willing to make up the lost time or could be willing to pay for an occasional taxi.  Don’t underestimate what some people are willing to do or the supports that they may have in place to help them get around if they need to.

You can let them know what you can offer them in terms of a budget for transportation based on what you usually allocate to employees for mileage and gas.  As an organization, you can also have employees who are driving to the same area to team up with those who don’t have cars and drop them off where they need to be.  You don’t want certain employees to feel that they are providing a taxi service for people who drive, so look at rotating this.  Obviously, when it comes to hiring  qualified people with disabilities for the job you will need to look at accommodating them to the point of undue hardship on the organization.

With creativity and “thinking outside the box”, we can create more equitable hiring practices.

Bullying and Peer Pressure: Lessons From the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario

With all the anti-bullying lessons going on in school these days, it seems that some of the members of the ETFO must have skipped out on the education. Or worse, listened but did not feel that anti-bullying applied to them.

Okay, I understand. You feel that you have been betrayed. I get that. However, please accept my apology. I don’t sympathize. Everyday in my work, I see many examples of people who do not receive a decent wage, who have to take work home at night so that they can stay on top of their job just to keep it. I see families working two and three jobs to put food on the table with no hope of ever having a two month vacation and benefits and more. They don’t get to go home at 4:00. When they are sick and cannot go to work, their families don’t eat. These my friend, are real grievances, and your lobbying power and skills could be best put to use to protect these hard-working individuals who are drowning in this recession with no voice, instead of getting in the way of good dedicated teachers doing their job. On top of it, the people who will suffer the most with these flash strikes and withdrawal of extra-curricular activities are those families who are struggling to stay afloat and cannot afford the sports, the dance and other lessons. Who is supposed to look after the children whose parents will lose their wages or worst yet their jobs if they cannot show up for work? How many children will be left neglected, unattended or in an unsafe environment, because their parent has to go to work or they risk losing their job? A friend told me that her child would be graduating this year and it will cost each family $500 per child, because the teachers have been told that they are not permitted to hand out fundraising information. No fundraising will be allowed. With this approach there could be lots of students unable to take part because their parents cannot afford $500.00. These are painful choices and the ETFO says it has the children’s best interest in mind? How is that so?

Stop the bullying and the peer pressure! I am talking about the Watch Dogs hanging outside the schools, making sure that teachers don’t stay after hours. It’s the people who follow teachers to their cars, intimidating them because they have stayed to talk to a concerned parent. I have heard of several examples of teachers feeling afraid of the consequences of doing anything outside of what these Watch Dogs have demanded. They fear isolation from other teachers who are supporting the Union’s demands and potential retaliation that can occur when members side against them. In any other organization, these  coercive tactics would not be permitted. I’m confused.  The ETFO speaks about its democratic right, but don’t these teachers who just want to go ahead with their usual business have democractic rights as well?

In this case, we have learned : bullies are untouchable and that peer pressure wins.

Thank you for a lesson on bullying and peer pressure!

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