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Still, even mid-employment checks must maintain proper rules against discriminatory and privacy restrictions. We will discuss in detail the federal laws that cover all of Canada first, then provide more regionally specific details afterward. As stated, the laws related to employment screenings in Canada are limited. However, the primary pieces of legislation in place that govern what information employers can and cannot obtain or use during employment background checks include:. The Canadian Human Rights Commission provides a detailed document overviewing how human rights and employment practices connect, and how the act oversees this issue.

In the case of disabilities, in particular, employers are strongly encouraged to make provisions to hire such individuals. These two sections state the following:. In this manner, employers cannot discriminate against job seekers during pre-employment screenings or even in the wording for posted available jobs.

Doing so is a violation of the law anywhere in Canada, and those who are discriminated against during this process can file for legal recourse. However, job seekers should have an understanding of what limitations exist on employers, especially the kind of information they collect and how they collect it.

However, PIPEDA does not prevent employers from using information that is publicly available, such as an open blog or freely available information posted on social media.

This information cannot be used to make discriminatory judgments, but it can be used to make character judgments that might lead an employer to pass over a job applicant. The Alberta Human Rights Act is nearly identical to the federal law but expands on it to add one extra protected class that cannot be discriminated against during the employment process.

The full list of protected classes includes the following with items that are not found in the federal Human Rights Act highlighted :. Note that by law, potential employers may not even ask about these protected areas. The Alberta government provides a tip sheet for employers about what they can and cannot ask potential employees. This is a good tip sheet for job seekers to keep handy as well as a way to ensure potential employers are not invading your privacy or human rights.

Additionally, employers in Alberta may not do the following during the pre-screening process:. Alberta also maintains the Personal Information Protection Act PIPA , a privacy-centered law that guarantees, among many other things, certain protections for employees and applicants regarding their private information. However, PIPA also gives employers the right to disclose that information as long as it fits the above definition of use as well. The Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia provides a very detailed write-up related to employment background checks and laws that govern them.

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To summarize their document, there are three laws not counting the federal Human Rights Act that employers in BC must follow when conducting employment pre-screening:. PIPA affects both government and private employers. Employers must obtain consent when collecting references and must explain that they will conduct a reference check. Any references you list on an application, be it with contact information or not, are assumed to come with implied consent for contact. As an applicant, you also have the right to access personal information obtained in the reference check, as long as the information is personal to you.

You do not have the right to obtain what references said about you as part of the reference check.

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In that lawsuit, a woman was denied a request from a potential employer on how it uses credit checks during the hiring process. She discovered that the company denied her a job based on her credit history, in that it did not trust her to use petty cash and a company credit card properly. The company was found to be in error according to PIPA , however, as it was determined that the job the woman was applying for would not have needed a company credit card.

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Additionally, the company used the credit score to find out work history that the woman had not indicated on the job application, something the judge determined was not appropriate. As such, companies that want to use your credit report must have a compelling reason to do so, and they cannot use it to discover work history that you choose not to list. They also cannot deny you a position based on a bad credit report without a very compelling reason. The use of this information is regulated and can only be collected and used where it is reasonable.

For employers governed by PIPA private , certain criteria must be met for an employer to use that information. This includes the following:. To clarify, your criminal background is not off limits, and there are no limitations to how far back into your criminal history an employer can go. Additionally, you can be precluded from the position as long as the employer believes the criminal background requirement is reasonable for the position. As FOIPPA only governs public organizations, how those organizations use private information is slightly different than for private employers.

Under FOIPPA , government agencies must meet one or more of the following criteria for criminal background checks when making hiring decisions:. Additionally, a BC arbitrator overseeing issues related to criminal background checks used by public organizations helped define when such background checks are appropriate for different types of positions. The arbitrator determined that such checks are appropriate for the following:.

Under PIPEDA , the collection of private information about spouses is deemed legitimate, particularly in situations where someone is applying for a sensitive security position. Furthermore, during employment background checks, employers must follow all of the following rules:. Under the law, if an applicant refuses to disclose certain personal information, potential employers can still seek access to that information in the following situations:. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission and the Saskatchewan Public Service Commission are the primary bodies which oversee employment protections, including applicant background checks.

The Human Rights Commission covers employment issues related to personhood, while the Public Service Commission oversees employment background checks for government agencies. These, and the other protected areas cannot be used when making hiring decisions, and cannot be sought when companies conduct background checks.

Potential employees may choose to submit that information voluntarily, but even then it cannot be used as a hiring factor. Some positions also include a vulnerable sector check, which involves a more extensive background check. Individuals applying for government jobs, or jobs that involve vulnerable sectors, should expect some privacy intrusions. Depending on the type of job, Saskatchewan employers, including the government, withhold the right to ensure that they do not hire individuals who may be a threat to vulnerable sectors.

Beyond that, however, individuals can expect a significant amount of privacy regarding the type of information that governments and businesses can obtain during the background check process.

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Individuals will find a range of privacy protections when applying for jobs in Manitoba that include the application process for private companies and government agencies. The Manitoba government upholds the Canada Human Rights Code rules on employment discrimination by maintaining their own version with only slightly altered language. Alongside the other areas identified by the Canada Human Rights Commission, Manitoba employers cannot pry into your political beliefs during or after the pre-employment screening and cannot use any social disadvantages as a reason to discriminate against you when applying for employment.

Manitoba also spells out that drug and alcohol dependency are considered a disability within the language of the Code. As such, employers in Manitoba are mostly barred from using these as a means to deny an application or during a background check, although in very specific cases they may be allowed to use the information to deny an application, particularly if the alcohol or drug dependency may interfere with your ability to perform the job.

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  • Nevertheless, businesses in Manitoba are required to make accommodations for those suffering from such disabilities. Overall, Manitoba gives employers some leeway to find the right person for the job, but strongly dictates how employers must respect human rights during the pre-employment process. According to the OHRC, these documents must also be kept confidential.

    Additionally, the OHRC dictates that asking for medical tests is a violation of the Code , while the use of psychological testing should be approached with extreme caution. The OHRC primarily disagrees with the use of psychological testing as a part of the pre-employment process, with most considered to be a human rights violation and completely against the Code. The OHRC also defines drug and alcohol dependency as a disability, such that it cannot be used to deny someone a job in most circumstances. Police records or criminal records can also be used only in very limited cases, most commonly if and when such information is essential for the protection of vulnerable persons.

    Unfortunately for job seekers, New Brunswick is one of six Canadian jurisdictions where criminal background checks can be used as a source of information during the employment pre-screening process.

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    Additionally, companies can make hiring decisions based on what they find, and that can extend beyond just whether or not the job affects vulnerable populations. This is not to say that New Brunswick does not also have its own rights protections. Much like other Canadian jurisdictions, New Brunswick has a Human Rights Act that closely mimics the wider law passed by the federal government.

    According to the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, the following 15 areas are protected against discrimination:. As noted earlier, and as is highlighted in this article, possessing a criminal background is not an area of discriminatory exclusion in New Brunswick, unlike in other Canadian jurisdictions. Your private criminal records may be exposed when you go through the pre-screening process, and can include a background check and fingerprinting just to complete a job application. Individual job seekers should be conscious of this when applying for jobs in New Brunswick.

    Nova Scotia has a fairly extensive set of protected areas within its Human Rights Act. There are 20 aspects of an individual that employers cannot use to discriminate against job applicants.

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    These include:. For employers, this can be a potential minefield. For applicants, however, this means that the employment background checks must be very particular in the information sought, and employers must be very clear about avoiding the acquisition and use of any private information that might lead them to implicit or explicit discrimination during the pre-screening process. However, Nova Scotia is among the jurisdictions that do not protect job seekers from criminal background discrimination.

    Employers in Nova Scotia may seek to dig into your private criminal background, and may choose to use that information or information they can easily find online through social media accounts related to potential criminal activity, as a reason to deny a job. Small Business to Fortune Education to Finance. Crimcheck provides industry targeted screenings for your exact needs in your exact industry.

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