June 29, 2021
Thairu Taban and Josslyn Mounsey were hired by Metrolinx as Transit Safety Communications Operators. They had successfully completed their training and had one last step before starting the job – a police background check with the Toronto Police Service. Neither of them has a criminal record, they had never been charged with a crime, they had never been arrested. Both of them “failed” the background check. Both of them are Black. Neither of them were given any explanation regarding why they failed the background check. The two white trainees who were hired at the same time “passed”; they became full time Metrolinx employees. Ms. Mounsey and Mr. Taban were fired.
Mr. Taban and Ms. Mounsey filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, alleging that the Toronto Police and Metrolinx discriminated against them on the basis of race, place of origin, colour, and ethnic origin.
CCLA applied for and was granted intervenor standing in the case.
Black people in Toronto are significantly more likely to be stopped, searched, questioned, arrested, and charged by the police – simply due to the colour of their skin. This means that Black individuals, their families, and broader communities, are more likely to be documented in police databases. The uncritical and overbroad use of police background checks disproportionately excludes Black individuals from employment, education, and volunteering opportunities.
CCLA has worked on the unfair, discriminatory and counterproductive use of police background checks and other similar processes for years. You can find out more about our previous work here – www.ccla.org/recordchecks – and check out some of our more recent advocacy here:
- CCLA’s work on the Manitoba Law Society’s good character requirements
- CCLA and John Howard Society of Ontario’s 2021 survey of individuals’ experiences with criminal records and the record suspension process
- CCLA’s March 2021 submissions on the regulatory exemptions to Ontario’s Police Records Check Reform Act
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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