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2014 PSST 15
Transparency; knowledge exam; fairness; discretion; serious error/omission; interview; rating guide; bias; assessment; informal discussion.
The complainant applied in an internal advertised appointment process for several Parole Officer Supervisor positions (WP-05) in the Ontario Region. She was eliminated following the interview for failing to meet an essential ability qualification. Two complaints were brought by the complainant in which she alleged that the process lacked transparency following the decision to screen back in some candidates who wrote the exam. The complainant also alleged that the assessment method used in the interview was fundamentally flawed since the assessment board provided her with ambiguous instructions and failed to prompt her during the interview. Finally, the complainant contended that there was bias shown against her in the appointment process.
The assessment board had first decided to screen in for further consideration the candidates with the top 25 scores on the knowledge exam. Following advice from HR, the board permitted all candidates who had passed the knowledge exam to be screened back into the process. One of those candidates was later appointed to a position. The Tribunal found that the board in this case exercised its discretion appropriately when it decided to screen back in candidates who had achieved a pass mark on the knowledge exam. The boardís decision concerning the results of the exam did not involve any change in the objective criteria for determining who passed the exams and did not have an impact on the complainantís elimination from the process. The Tribunal found that the decision was motivated by concerns related to fairness to candidates as raised by HR. The Tribunal did agree that there was a lack of transparency concerning the results of the exam. Candidates who had initially been informed by email that they had been screened out were subsequently informed that they were screened back in. No explanation was provided to any of the candidates as to the reasons for this decision. The Tribunal further found, however, that this lack of transparency was not a serious enough error or omission as to reach the level of an abuse of authority.
The Tribunal also found on a review of all the evidence that the complainant had failed to establish that the process for assessing her interview was flawed. The instructions to candidates were clear concerning what abilities each question was designed to assess, and what was the standard required to pass each question. The rating guide provided an objective basis that was used to assess all candidates. There was no evidence that the board members failed to exercise independent judgment in assessing the complainant nor was a lack of consistency in either the composition of the board or the application of the assessment tool during the interview proven.
Finally, the complainant failed to prove reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of one of the assessment board members as a result of some comments that were allegedly made during the informal discussion.