Discrimination? Want ad sparks backlash against Fergus restaurant
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2016 6:14PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 19, 2016 6:35PM EST
A little advertisement is causing a lot of buzz in Fergus and online.
The ad, which was recently posted in a local newspaper, states that Horizon Family Restaurant is looking for “reliable waitress help,” and has a full-time and a part-time position available.
“Do not apply with visible tattoos and face piercings,” the ad reads.
After a photograph of the ad was posted online, the restaurant received negative comments on Facebook and Twitter.
It also received multiple Google reviews at one out of five stars, with negative comments referencing the ad.
“They will serve you if you have tattoos and piercings (aka take your money) won’t hire you if they you have tattoos or piercings,” reads one.
“That’s greedy discrimination at it’s finest. Typical small town ignorance & exclusion.”
On the main street of Fergus on Tuesday, the reaction wasn’t quite so vehement – but among people approached by CTV News, it was unanimous.
“I was surprised that somebody wouldn’t be hired based on tattoos,” said one woman.
“Everybody gets tattoos nowadays. You can’t find a grandmother that doesn’t have a tattoo nowadays. It’s not a big deal,” said a man.
“You shouldn’t discriminate against something that people choose,” added a high school student.
But is it discrimination?
“The short answer is ‘generally no,’ the long answer is ‘possibly,’” says Holly Gomes, a Kitchener-based employment lawyer.
As Gomes explains it, only certain forms of prejudice are legally considered discrimination in Canada – including discrimination based on disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion.
Favoritism based on tattoos or piercings is not legally considered discrimination.
“There’s a difference in our law between general unfairness and what’s discriminatory,” Gomes said.
“It’s not going to be discrimination simply to say that you can’t have a visible tattoo and work here.”
What would be discrimination, Gomes said, is if someone was denied a job based on a tattoo that they wear for a religious reason.
Gomes did flag the ad’s call for a “waitress” as discriminatory.
“It appears to be they’re discriminating against men, in the fact that they’re seeking simply waitresses,” she said.
Three phone calls from CTV News to the restaurant Tuesday morning were not answered.
When a CTV reporter showed up at the restaurant and asked for comment, the owner declined and said he would call the police if CTV didn’t leave. The reporter then left.