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Criminal Conviction

The PEI Human Rights Act states that an individual, company or organization cannot dismiss or refuse to employ an individual because he or she has been convicted of a criminal or summary conviction offence that is unrelated to the position. Under the PEI Human Rights Act the conviction does not have to be pardoned to be considered a prohibited ground of discrimination. However, under the Canadian Human Rights Act and some provincial human rights laws, the conviction does have to be pardoned.

The PEI Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on a criminal conviction only in the area of employment. This ground is not protected under the other areas of the Act such as volunteer work or public services.

Consider this scenario:

Angela was once convicted of impaired driving. She recently graduated from the Culinary Institute and is now applying for a position as a chef at a local restaurant. During the interview, Barbara, the interviewer, asks if she has ever been convicted of a criminal offence. Angela does not think this information is relevant but tells Barbara about her conviction. Barbara then ends the interview and tells her that the restaurant does not employ anyone with a criminal record.

Angela could be experiencing discrimination in the area of employment on the basis of criminal conviction. A conviction for impaired driving is not relevant to Angela’s ability to work as a chef. However, if Angela sought employment as a long-haul truck driver, her conviction may be considered relevant to that position. Therefore, a trucking company may not be discriminating against her if they refuse to hire her because of her conviction of impaired driving.

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