07/15/2015 01:03 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Company Apologizes For White Only Nurse Job Ad

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A seniors home care company that posted an ad last week looking for a Caucasian nurse in Burlington, Ont. is apologizing for what it's calling an "unfortunate mistake."

The ad for Retire at Home services for seniors was posted on Craigslist last week, saying that a client is "looking for a Caucasian RN or RPN to work shifts that are between eight and 12 hours in length."

On Tuesday, CEO Rick Norland apologized for the posting, and said it would not happen again.

"We know that the job placement ad that was recently placed in Burlington was unfortunately written in a fashion that sounds discriminatory," he said in a written statement.

"It was an unfortunate mistake on the part of one individual, and it was removed immediately when we became aware of it."

The ad – which stayed online for about a week – was taken down shortly after a CBC News reporter called the company to inquire about it.

Norland said that the incident "in no way reflects the practices of Retire at Home Services."

"Our company upholds the high standards expected of the Ontario Home Care Association and our fellow home care providers," he said. "The situation was regrettable and we have taken immediate action to ensure this does not happen again."

Norland did not specify exactly what that action is, and would not consent to an interview.

Human Rights complaint possible

Retire at Home is a company that connects seniors with caregivers. Darren Pierce, the director of care at the company's Burlington location, told CBC News on Tuesday that sometimes people with medical conditions like dementia can make requests for specific traits in a nurse, such as speaking a certain language.

He did not specify if race fell into that same category.

Hamilton community legal clinic lawyer Rani Khan told CBC News Tuesday that the ad could open the company up to a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

"This is something that would likely be contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code," Khan said. "A person looking at this ad could bring an application to the human rights tribunal saying that this is discriminatory."

The Ontario Human Rights Code, allows that an individual person can refuse to employ someone on the grounds of race, where "the primary duty of the employment is attending to the medical or personal needs of the person or of an ill child or an aged, infirm or ill spouse or other relative of the person."

But that applies only to a specific person soliciting services, Khan said, not a company. Even though Retire at Home does connect seniors to nurses, it would be opening itself up to human rights complaints by advertising as a company, she said.

Hamilton anti-racism activist Halima Hatimy called the ad "blatant, overt racism."

"It's obviously racist and it excludes a number of people in the community," she said.

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