Halifax thinks again about subjecting applicants to lie-detector tests
Job seekers asked if they've had sex with animals or thought of killing themselves
Halifax Regional Municipality is reviewing its practice of using a polygraph test on job applicants after critics questioned why applicants were asked whether they had ever thought of killing themselves or had sex with animals.
Mayor Peter Kelly said Monday that while it's important to screen potential employees, he felt some of the questions were inappropriate.
"We should be asking what are the valid questions that should be asked and what is important or imperative to the outcome of the job," Kelly said.
Kelly said he called for the review after the Halifax Chronicle Herald quoted a job applicant saying she was humiliated by questions during a recent polygraph test, including one asking whether she had sex with animals.
- Did you take any type of drug in preparation for this test?
- Have you ever has sex with someone against their will or without their consent?
- Have you ever engaged in bestiality?
- Have you done or said anything to discriminate?
- Have you ever tried to take your life?
The woman, who has asked not to be identified, was applying for a position with the municipality's information technology division.
She said she did not get the job.
"They didn't leave any stones unturned," the woman said. "I was told I'm not suitable."
The pre-employment polygraph booklet has been handed out to anyone applying for a job with the police and fire services, bylaw enforcement, as well as some IT positions.
Would-be employees are told to answer truthfully or be removed from the job competition. Any information about unlawful activities can be handed over to police.
The questions cover a range of areas, from an applicant's work experience to how much they drink. Some questions ask for the applicant to provide an explanation.
Some could force people to reveal information about what they were up to in their teen years, Kelly said.
"What is the reason or rationale to go that far back?" he said. "Do we breach any of those confidentialities in terms of the law?"
Kelly said he's heard such tests aren't used by the military and are banned in New Brunswick and Ontario. He's asked municipal staff to look at job screening methods across the country.
The municipality expects full details from the review in the next couple of weeks.
Kelly said all aspects of the polygraph tests are under review, from the type of questions asked to whether they should be put forth at all.
With files from the Canadian Press