Complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Commission Against Wilfrid Laurier University for Job Discrimination

September 2000

In mid-July, 1999, the Psychology Department at Wilfrid Laurier University circulated an advertisement for a faculty position. Specifically, the ad included the statement "The department is attempting to address a gender imbalance in its department, and therefore will hire a woman for this position..." A fair number of SAFS members wrote letters to various senior administrators at Wilfrid Laurier University to protest the ad and to request that it be withdrawn. As well, the ad sparked media interest, and in the next several months the issue received attention all across Canada from newspapers, radio, and television.

In October, 1999, Clive Seligman formally complained to the Ontario Human Rights Commission about Wilfrid Laurier University's sex discrimination. In December, the lawyer for Wilfrid Laurier University responded to the complaint by challenging Seligman's legal standing to complain. In February, 2000, Seligman rebutted Wilfrid Laurier's claim. There the issue sits, awaiting a decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission as to whether they will hear the complaint or not. The Ontario Human Rights Code also allows the Commission to hear complaints on its on initiative.

In the meantime, the Psychology Department at Wilfrid Laurier University has announced that it will not continue its discriminatory job hiring next year. This decision was decided by a close vote in the department, the tie vote being cast by the department chair. Neither the psychology department nor the university has admitted that the policy was wrong.