Friday, July 14, 2017

Richmond sign advertises for 'Chinese' sales person

Richmond sign advertises for 'Chinese' sales person

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Image result for A Richmond retailer’s sign advertising for a “Chinese sales person” appears to fly in the face of B.C. human rights law.
A Richmond retailer’s sign advertising for a “Chinese sales person” appears to fly in the face of B.C. human rights law.
A Furniture Land outlet in Richmond recently erected a large sandwich board in its parking lot that read: Now hiring: We are hiring Chinese sales person.
Debate about the sign lit up social media and led to complaints to Richmond city council, with commenters wondering whether the advertising is illegal and how it relates to the controversy in Richmond over Chinese-language-only signs.
The B.C. Human Rights Code prohibits hiring practices, including advertising, that unjustifiably discriminate against would-be employees based on characteristics such as gender, sexual orientation, age, race or colour.
An employee at the Furniture Land outlet on Bridgeport Road, who would not give his name, said Thursday the company designed a sign seeking a “Chinese sales person” because it wants to hire someone who can speak Mandarin or Cantonese to talk to the many customers who do not understand English.
Ethnic Chinese people make up half the population of Richmond, population 218,000. The city was a popular destination for immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan in the 1990s, with more recent arrivals from Mainland China
Lindsay Lyster, a human rights and labour lawyer, said in an interview Thursday that “it’s likely such a sign would be a breach” of the code’s prohibition against job advertising that discriminates based on ethnicity.
But, if the sign is simply poorly worded and is actually seeking any person who can speak Chinese languages, the Furniture Land outlet “may have a defence,” Lyster said.
“In some cases, Chinese language may be a bone fide occupational requirement,” Lyster said, adding each case “has to be decided on the facts” and she did not know the details of this one.

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Even though Chinese, Indian, Filipino, Korean and Middle Eastern languages are common in Metro Vancouver workplaces, Lyster was not immediately aware of any human rights cases in B.C. that hinged on whether people could be justifiably hired based on their language fluency.
City of Richmond staff removed the “Chinese sales person” sign on Thursday, after council members received complaints earlier in the week.
Richmond spokesman Ted Townsend said the sign was taken away simply because it contravened city bylaws against sandwich board signs, which are allowed only in specific situations.
“The content of signs is beyond our purview,” Townsend said. Whether the language on the sign discriminates against non-Chinese people, he said, “would be up to the human rights board to decide.”
On Monday Richmond council passed a range of new sign bylaws that Townsend said removed “a lot of the gaps” in earlier regulations.
The revised bylaws aim to reduce “clutter” created by portable and free-standing signs. City council also recommends all signs in the city be at least one-half English, although it’s not a requirement.
The city’s proportion of immigrants, at 60 per cent, is among the highest in Canada.