Edmonton

Man files human right complaints after being rejected for Edmonton babysitting jobs

A legal group wants complaints from a man who says parents discriminated against him when they didn't hire him as a babysitter thrown out.

Group argues parents have right to make 'decisions about the care of their children'

A national legal group is fighting the claims of human violations lodged by an Edmonton man over babysitting jobs he has applied for but not been given. (Robert Short/CBC)

A legal group wants complaints from a man who says parents discriminated against him when they didn't hire him as a babysitter thrown out.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms wrote to the Alberta Human Rights Commission this month on behalf of two parents it is representing.

"We believe that there's no human right to babysit another person's children and that the anxiety that these kind of cases are causing to parents is something that should and can be avoided," staff lawyer Marty Moore said in an interview Thursday.

In a letter to the commission dated Wednesday, the justice centre describes how a mother of three posted an ad on Kijiji in February for an early-morning babysitter. The letter redacts the mother's surname to protect her privacy and refers to her only as Danielle.

Discrimination alleged when he didn't get job

One potential candidate, James Cyrynowski of Edmonton, sent Danielle a text outlining his experience and credentials, which included an early child development certificate, a criminal record check and nine years of experience caring for kids. She asked him whether he had any children and he replied "not yet."

Danielle chose a different babysitter who lived nearby.

In April, Cyrynowski complained to the human rights commission that he had been discriminated against because of his family status.

"I applied for a caregiver job on Kijiji. I was asked if I have children. I do not. I did not get the job," Cyrynowski said in his handwritten complaint, a link to which the justice centre included in its news release.

The written human rights complaint filed in April 2019 by James Cyrynowski of Edmonton. (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms)

Attempts to contact Cyrynowski were not immediately successful.

The human rights commission accepted the complaint in June, the justice centre said.

The justice centre also wrote a letter to the human rights commission dated Aug. 19 on behalf of a single father.

Todd, whom the justice centre is only identifying by his first name, posted a Kijiji ad in August 2017 looking for someone to watch his kids while he was out with friends.

Not his first complaint

Cyrynowski responded to the ad and Todd asked him his age, location and gender. Cyrynowski answered the questions.

Todd's dinner plans fell through and he no longer needed a babysitter, the justice centre said. The next day, Cyrynowski complained to the human rights commission that Todd discriminated against him based on age and gender. Todd was not informed of the complaint until this July.

Moore said the delay was due to a protracted case involving Cyrynowski and another would-be employer.

In that case, which dates back to 2014, Cyrynowski claimed he was being discriminated against when a mother said she preferred a female babysitter. The case was dismissed and came to an end in May, when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected Cyrynowski's application for leave to appeal.

In her 2017 decision on the matter, a Court of Queen's Bench justice, noted that Cyrynowski had filed multiple human rights complaints claiming gender discrimination.

Moore said the justice centre is asking the human rights commission to follow precedent and dismiss the complaints against Todd and Danielle.

He said parents have a constitutional right to decide who looks after their children and to ask any questions they want of potential candidates.

"It's just a question of basic information about a person and for someone to view these questions as prohibited, or for the Human Rights Act to be interpreted in that manner, certainly goes against common sense," said Moore.

"It goes against the rights of parents to make reasonably informed decisions about the care of their children and it really is an intrusion violating freedom of expression."

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