Skip to main content

Guests arrive at the Hells Angels clubhouse in Langley, B.C., in July 2008.

Jennifer Roberts/The Globe and Mail

The City of Vancouver is reviewing its hiring practices after news that a member of the Hells Angels was hired as a garbage collector, but routine criminal records checks on all employees might not be in the cards.

Court records show Ronald Lising has been convicted of drugs, weapons and assault offences, and in 2005 he was nabbed during a massive investigation that saw police raid Hells Angels clubhouses in Kelowna and Vancouver.

He was hired as a seasonal trash collector in Vancouver in May, but city manager Penny Ballem said staff did not do a criminal record check at the time.

Story continues below advertisement

He "is essentially a labourer with no contact, obviously, with children or vulnerable people at risk or any access to any inventory, financial records, anything," Ms. Ballem told a Vancouver radio station.

"They are essentially working on garbage collection. So it's not necessary to do a criminal records check."

Ms. Ballem said city staff are now looking into what kinds of questions they can ask a potential hire.

B.C.'s human-rights code does not allow employers to discriminate against people with criminal records unless the employer can prove the discrimination is justified. So, for example, an employer is justified in not hiring a sex offender as a custodian at a school or for not hiring someone convicted of fraud to work in a bank.

Srdjan Rajbah, of the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, said it is routine for municipal or provincial governments to do criminal record checks on potential employees. But unless they can find a justifiable reason, the information can't be used against a job applicant.

Human rights lawyer Elizabeth Reid said the onus on an employer to determine whether a person's conviction is related to the job they are applying for is not small.

"They can't make assumptions about this – they have to examine the facts very carefully," she said.

Story continues below advertisement

So the nature of the conviction must be weighed against what duties the job entails, whether the applicant will be interacting with a vulnerable population, how closely the person will be supervised, among other things. As well, the time lapse since the conviction and the age of the applicant at the time of the charge must also be considered.

As a result, Ms. Reid said some employers, including the city, may not find it worthwhile to do an exhaustive check. She said it would be an open question whether an employer has a justifiable requirement to ensure garbage collectors don't have criminal convictions.

"[Employers] can ask for the criminal record check. But if they say 'if anything turns up on the criminal record check, you're out,' then that would be discriminatory," she said.

"My general advice to employers is, unless you're in some kind of sensitive position, you may not want to ask those questions because as soon as you ask the questions, you might be facing a discrimination complaint."

Ms. Reid also noted Canada has a general principal of recognizing that once someone has served time in prison, they have paid their debt to society and should be able to resume their lives.

A spokesman for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents sanitation workers in Vancouver, declined comment on the Lising case.

Story continues below advertisement

"If the city is going to change its hiring practices, then that's a discussion that would obviously have to take place with the union with whatever other internal procedures the city has to go through," said Clay Suddaby.

"If and when that conversation happens, we'll obviously participate."

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies