Ridout Barron


Alberta man claims gender bias on lifeguard test

A Medicine Hat resident lost his bid for equality in lifeguard testing for men and women after he filed a complaint when he had to carry additional weight during testing and did not pass. The Alberta Human Rights Commission found his complaint invalid and ruled that the weight accommodation was appropriate for smaller recruits. However, the man is thinking about appealing the decision to the Court of Queen's Bench.

The 2010 incident happened after the man applied to serve as a lifeguard with the city. As part of the testing requirements, he had to rescue and carry a subject from the pool. The women were to choose other women while the men needed to choose only men. In addition, the plaintiff was told he needed to choose a larger man who was reportedly an estimated 15 kilograms heavier than he was. The commission agreed with the plaintiff's observation of the gender separation. However, they felt the city was justified in their decision. The female candidates were young women, mostly teens, and the city wanted to instill confidence in the girls during the testing. After the man failed, the city said he could retest, but he turned down their offer.

Although the 34-year-old man has retained other employment as a fitness trainer after the incident three years ago, he believes the principle matters. He opines that it's dangerous for a first responder to be unable to carry the necessary weight load that a larger person might require. He emphatically stated that the problem was now a matter of public safety and observed that public servants can't choose their victims.

Discrimination can occur in numerous ways at work. An employment lawyer might be able to answer questions for clients who believe they have suffered on-the-job discrimination.

Source: Calgary Herald, "Human-rights complaint claims gender bias in lifeguard test", Jason Van Rassel, May 14, 2014

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