A Pakistani graduate from McGill University is suing Canada’s Imperial Oil company after the latter rescinded his job offer when it found that the applicant was neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident.
Muhammad Taimoor Haseeb was offered a $86,700-a-year position in the Canadian oil company in December 2014. Even though Haseeb could legally work in Canada under Ottawa’s post-graduation work permit programme, the job offer was revoked after the company found out that he was neither a Canadian national nor a permanent resident.
“Treating me as lesser of a human being because I was not born in Canada is upsetting. Telling me that immigrants take up jobs that locals deserve and have the first right to is just as discriminatory,” Haseeb said.
Haseeb, who now works for an international management consulting firm in St John’s, NL, went to Canada in 2009 for his undergraduate studies in mechanical engineering at McGill and received top marks when he graduated in December 2014.
The 25-year-old then submitted his resumé to Imperial Oil in late 2014 and, after going through two rounds of interviews, received a job offer from the company on December 2, 2014, which considered him as possessing the “skills and ability to make a strong contribution to our company”.
However, the offer contained a stipulation which required proof that “you are eligible to work in Canada on a permanent basis” and asked Haseeb to submit a copy of his Canadian birth certificate, Canadian citizenship certificate or a permanent resident card.
After receiving the offer letter, Haseeb informed the company that although he was not a citizen or permanent resident, he was still eligible to work in Canada for up to three years under a post-graduation work permit while applying for permanent residency in Canada.
However, the company disregarded this and allegedly asked him to “imagine how I would feel if immigrants started coming into Pakistan and start taking all the jobs.”
Imperial Oil is now facing a human rights complaint of employment discrimination against Haseeb based on national origin and citizenship. The case, which is scheduled to go before a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario hearing in March, is believed to be the first employment-related complaint in the province and Canada on such grounds — and could set a precedent, if successful.
Commenting on the case, Haseeb’s lawyer Chantal Tie said, “At a time when the Canadian government is begging for skilled professionals, this bar to employment is absurd. It also constitutes discrimination, because the concept of ‘permanence’ is linked with citizenship and country of origin.”
In its reply to the human rights tribunal, Imperial argued that Haseeb did not have a valid work permit and hence could not work legally in Canada. It also alleged that the complainant “lied to and/or failed to inform Imperial Oil that he did not have the legal right to work for Imperial Oil in Canada throughout the relevant time period.”
However, Tie, Haseeb’s lawyer, noted that study permit holders in Canada no longer needed a separate work permit to work off campus as of June 2014.
“The crux of the problem is increasingly Canadian employers are requiring citizenship and permanent residency, particularly for highly skilled jobs,” said Tie.
“It has created an insurmountable barrier for these students to get the work experience, which is supposed to be the direct pipeline to Canadian permanent residence,” he added.
The Canadian government extended post-graduation work permits for foreign students in 2005 and introduced the Canada Experience Class program in 2008 to boost its international student recruitment and retention.
This article originally appeared on The Star.