A Canadian father may have violated his province’s human rights act by asking the age and gender of a potential babysitter, according to legal documents in the case.
The single father, known only as Todd P. in the documents, is being investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission after a complaint was filed against him in 2017 by the applicant, who claims the father violated the Alberta Human Rights Act.
The dad had placed a classified ad on the Canadian website Kijiji.ca on Aug. 31, 2017, seeking a babysitter for the next night, when he was set to have dinner with a friend. His children at the time were eight and five.
Among the applicants was one that said the person knew CPR, first aid, had a clean criminal record and had seven years of experience taking care of children. The father replied by asking the person’s age and gender, and the applicant responded by writing: “I’m male and 28 years old.” But when the father’s dinner plans fell through, he stopped corresponding with the individual, who was one of numerous applicants.
On Sept. 1, the potential babysitter filed a formal complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission, claiming age and gender discrimination within section 8 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on several categories, including age and gender.
The Albert Human Rights Commission has not dismissed the complaint, even though a similar case against a mom within the province previously was rejected. An investigator in that case recommended the mother be required to pay $1,000-$1,500 for “damages to dignity.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the father. It wrote the commission Aug. 19, asking for the complaint to be dismissed.
“Thwarting parents from even inquiring about a babysitter’s gender or age is inconsistent with giving ‘utmost deference’ to parents’ preferences concerning a babysitter for their children,” the letter said. “It is also inconsistent with the fact that both gender and age may each be bona fide occupational requirements in this context.”
Forcing the father to hire a specific babysitter, it said, would violate his rights guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“To prohibit parents from asking such basic questions as potential babysitters’ age and sex prevents parents from fulfilling their obligation to responsibly make decisions concerning the care of their own vulnerable children,” the letter said.
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Fizkes/Royalty-Free, this is a stock image.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.