A Toronto coffee company is facing backlash online after it posted an employment ad stating it preferred men over women because they would be lifting heavy packages.

Saint Jimmy’s Coffee, which distributes coffee to various corner stores and offices around Toronto, posted the ad on employment website Indeed last week, saying that a successful applicant would “need to be able to lift 22-25 lbs minimum, so men are preferred for this position.”

A link to the job ad was posted on Reddit and a Facebook employment group last week, where dozens of angry users lampooned the company for assuming that a woman wouldn’t be able to lift the weight of a toddler.

Edward James, a representative of the company who declined to say his position, called the incident a mistake, saying the post was made by a 21-year-old employee whose first language was not English.

Mr. James said female employees at the company have now been the target of cyberbullying from a number of people sending negative comments. He said that the woman who made the job posting was very upset and that the people who are complaining have taken the post “out of context.”

“We had the job post taken down, and we had a public apology on multiple platforms,” said Mr. James, who said they responded immediately after seeing the complaints. “The people who were involved were overly aggressive towards our company.”

The company’s apology on Reddit noted that female employees at the company “requested someone that was stronger to join our team and take over the very difficult and heavy-duty regular delivery responsibilities.”

The apology also said that the posting listed men as preferred, not as required, which it says is not illegal.

Simone Ostrowski, an employment and labour employer, took issue with that statement, saying that a preference of men over women was still potentially grounds for the company to be brought to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

“That defence wouldn’t get them very far,” said Ms. Ostrowski. “The intention is obviously either for women not to apply, or expect that men will be preferred, even if they do apply. ”

Ms. Ostrowski also found other job ads by the company that had an age and height preference, which she said could also be violations of Ontario labour laws.

Saint Jimmy’s said the height requirement was for a mascot position, as they needed an employee who could fit into their costume. The company did not comment on the age requirement for a separate job ad.

“It’s not a smart move,” said Ms. Ostrowski, who said that someone wouldn’t even have to apply for the job to make a complaint. Anybody who felt they were being discriminated against could make an application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

Nicole Provan, a member of the Facebook community where the ad was posted, said she would like to see the issue taken to a human-rights tribunal, saying it was “ridiculous” to assume that women can’t lift 25 pounds (or 11 kilograms).

“Most fast-food jobs require people to lift up to 50 pounds [22.5 kg], and the fast-food industry is dominated by women,” said Ms. Provan.

Ms. Provan was disappointed to hear that specific employees were being targeted in cyberbullying attacks, but she said the many disparaging posts on the company’s Facebook page were deserved.

“You can’t just get away with saying something like that. It’s kind of ridiculous that nobody had a second look at the job posting.”


Originally published on the globeandmail.com by Salmaan Farooqui on June 19, 2018