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EXCLUSIVE: Job ad that seeks applicants with 'no audible accent' causes stir online

Last Updated Aug 19, 2015 at 8:39 pm EDT

A Toronto pizza joint is being both lauded and lambasted for posting a job ad that seeks applicants without “any audible accent.”

The position is for a customer service representative at FBI Pizza, which has two GTA locations.

FBI

In a phone interview with CityNews, FBI Pizza co-owner, Sean Tanha, said the ad wasn’t meant to be discriminatory, but aimed to prevent confusion with delivery orders.

Tanha said they’re seeking someone without an accent for that position, “based on our past experiences with employees not being able to clarify the spelling of an address…”

“Otherwise it can become a very big problem,” he said.

In a tweet, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) said the “big problem” could be with the restaurant’s ad, which may represent a human rights violation.

According to the OHRC: “…the [Ontario Human Rights] Code can be infringed when someone is denied employment, service, housing, or is otherwise discriminated against because of an accent…”

Attorney David Whitten also found the ad potentially discriminatory.

“When you have an advertisement that specifically excludes people with…an accent, it makes it pretty clear decisions are being made based on someone’s ethnic background,” he told CityNews.

Tanha says FBI Pizza employs about 50 people from various ethnic backgrounds. He takes offence to any suggestion that discrimination was at play.

“For someone to say that to me, it’s offensive to me to hear that…It’s not so much (about) an accent, it’s how well you’re able to understand the language and the customer.”

Many people on Twitter backed his stance.

Others however, found it problematic.

On the CityNews Facebook page, Sandy McNama said “just because someone has an accent does not mean you can’t understand them, matter (sic) a fact don’t even know if legally you can do this.”

AJ Smith said he understood the message, but questioned the language used in the posting. “It could be worded better. Perhaps, ‘must be able to communicate clearly in English.’ Too many times I’ve called somewhere and not been able to understand what the customer service representative is saying…”

Some spoke out against the tone of the job posting on Twitter.