RCMP medical questionnaire too intrusive for civilian applicants

Overview

A woman was denied a civilian telecommunications officer position with the RCMP after refusing to answer certain questions posed on a medical history questionnaire she was asked to complete during the recruitment process. The questions included:

  • "Do you have monthly menstrual periods?"
  • "What was the date of your last period?"
  • "Are your menstrual periods painful?"
  • "When was your last Pap smear test?"
  • "How many times, including abortion and miscarriage have you been pregnant?"

Candidates were also asked if they had varicose veins, arthritis, phlebitis, hay fever, venereal disease, and whether any of their family members had diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, tuberculosis or heart disease.

Actions taken by the OPC

We established that the woman was required to submit to the same testing process as a candidate applying to be a police officer. The RCMP, however, could not demonstrate how such questions were relevant to a civilian desk job. We concluded that the complaint was well-founded.

Outcome of OPC Actions

Following discussions with the RCMP, its Health Services officials agreed to suspend the use of this questionnaire for civilian candidates. It has undertaken to create a new form specifically for telecommunications officer candidates and geared to the medical requirements of the job, such as hearing, upper body movement, and diseases that could affect cognitive thinking and speech recognition.

While the woman also objected to having to undergo a psychological assessment, the RCMP explained to our satisfaction that telecommunications officers are often the only lifeline between victims and the police officers handling emergency calls. The RCMP therefore needs to ensure that candidates are able to withstand the pressures of the job and deal comfortably with the situations they encounter. Collection of personal information to assess candidates' ability to deal with those stresses is therefore reasonable and appropriate.

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