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Samsung Accused Of Rejecting Muslim Job Candidate Because He Doesn’t Drink Alcohol

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When 34-year-old Omar received an email from Samsung’s human resources department inviting him for a job interview, he was pleasantly surprised. He hadn’t applied for a position there, but the email sender told him he was the exact candidate Samsung wanted for its newest software technology position.

Omar was set up for four interviews that took place over the next few weeks: one phone call and three in-person interviews set for Samsung’s Strategy and Innovation Center in Menlo Park, California.

The interview process, in October 2017, was expedited, Samsung told Omar. He took that as a good sign. After all, the California resident had over 10 years’ experience in the software technology field, and this was an unsolicited job offer. When the date of his in-person interviews arrived, Omar was scheduled for three one-hour meetings, starting with a Samsung software engineer, followed by an interview with the hiring manager and the last with a manager of software engineering. 

Omar said he breezed through the first two interviews. They were short, Omar told HuffPost. He said the discussions lacked any “technical depth,” which is unusual for a technology position. The hiring manager told Omar all he needed to do was to impress his last interviewer and that everyone else was convinced Omar was the perfect candidate and that he should secure the position.

But that last interview, Omar said, took a bizarre turn when his interviewer didn’t ask him about his work experiences or technical capabilities. Instead, the interviewer emphasized the importance of company culture, Omar said, and how that included drinking a lot of alcohol, sometimes until 2 in the morning.   

“I can tell you’re a Muslim,” the interviewer told Omar. He then pressed him to discuss his religious views and elaborate on his attitude on alcohol.

HuffPost is withholding Omar’s real name over concerns of a backlash from other potential employers. Omar is in the process of interviewing with various other companies for a new job. 

Omar said he told his interviewer that although he personally chooses not to drink alcohol, he would have no issue with co-workers doing so. But Omar said the interviewer was not satisfied with his response and questioned him further about his faith, asked how religious he was and how his decision to not drink alcohol might interfere with team “cohesiveness.”

It was only 25 minutes into the one-hour meeting when the interviewer suddenly walked out ― indicating to Omar that the meeting was over. Three days later, Omar found out he did not get the position at Samsung. He said he immediately realized why.

“It all kind of clicked,” he said.

Omar and his lawyer at the San Francisco Bay Area’s office of the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR-SFBA) filed a religious discrimination complaint last month over the incident with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

A DFEH spokesperson confirmed to HuffPost that Omar’s complaint against Samsung was received but did not elaborate because the case is ongoing.

“What we want to take away from this,” said Ammad Rafiqi, the civil rights and legal services coordinator at CAIR’s SFBA office, is “that individuals are able to be judged by their qualifications, education and experiences, but also feel comfortable being valued members of the community.”

The lawyer, who conducted his own investigation of the matter, said CAIR-SFBA and Omar may pursue other avenues if they aren’t satisfied with how the DFEH complaint is addressed.

A Samsung spokesperson told HuffPost in an email statement that the company ”is committed to a diverse workplace that respects the rights of all individuals” and promotes “a professional and inclusive culture.” The spokesperson would not confirm if the interviewer Omar identified is still employed by Samsung, but said the company “takes complaints very seriously” and would address Omar’s complaint “through the legal process.”

A LinkedIn profile of the manager who interviewed Omar indicates he is still employed at Samsung.

Omar said he had quickly reached out to Samsung’s human resources department and, in emails HuffPost has reviewed, detailed the problematic interview. He specifically inquired about a course of action to ensure no other Muslim or other religious minority would face similar questions.

Eventually, Omar said, an HR representative responded by phone with what he called a “half-hearted” apology over the last interviewer’s actions. But the representative, he said, but did not mention any repercussions for the interviewer or any preventative action.

Omar said he has not heard back from the company since the HR representative’s call. He said that during the past year, after realizing his concerns would not be addressed by Samsung, he worked with CAIR before filing the DFEH complaint on Oct. 24.

Questions about an applicant’s religious belief or practices, unless directly required for a position, such as being a religious organization’s leader, is prohibited by federal law. 

“What I would have liked to have heard is that they were taking measures to make sure this kind of thing isn’t going to happen again,” Omar told HuffPost. “I’m surprised at the fact that Samsung, being such a big company as it is, doesn’t do more to ensure that this sort of outcome isn’t there.”

Samsung has 30 days to respond to the complaint filed with DFEH. Omar is still employed at the technology company he worked for at the time of the interviews, a Samsung competitor. He said his experience with Samsung has made him “more conscious” that such discrimination can occur, even before someone is hired.

“I feel like I always knew that these things sort of happened, but it didn’t really manifest itself like the way it did with Samsung,” Omar said. “It really made it clear there are some unwritten rules and unspoken realities in corporate America.”

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11-Step Guide to Buying A House

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Purchasing a home is likely going to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime, which is why it is so important to follow the right steps when starting on your home-buying journey to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly from start to finish!

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to buying a home, to help you get off on the right foot when it comes to buying a home. Click the download button below to download these steps in PDF form.

1. Decide to buy a home

Make sure you are ready both financially and emotionally!

2. Get Pre-Approved

Work with a mortgage broker or your bank. They will work with you on what you require to submit an application. Once approved, this will determine how much you can afford to spend on a home.

3. REALTOR® Consultation

Work with a RE/MAX agent to help guide you through the process. The right agent will discuss your price range, ideal locations, current market conditions and much more!

4. Start Your Search

Your REALTOR® will get you information on new homes that meet your criteria as soon as they’re listed. They’ll work with you and for you to ensure you find your dream home.

5. Current Market Conditions

Your experienced RE/MAX agent is a valuable resource as you consider different properties. They will be there when you have questions regarding the homes you’re interested in – they can tell you what is a good deal, and when to walk away.

6. Make an Offer

Your REALTOR® will help create your offer tailored to your needs including the right subject clauses down to the closing date that works best for you.

7. Negotiate

You may receive a counter offer but don’t be worried! RE/MAX agents will negotiate for you to ensure you get the best possible price for the house you love!

8. Accepted Offer

It’s crunch time! The next few weeks are busy as you need to schedule and remove every one of your subject clauses by the specified date. You’ll likely need to schedule an inspection, appraisal, financing approval, and several others. You will also need to provide a deposit to put down on the home. The deposit will be a pre-determined amount given in-trust to your REALTOR® to show the sellers you are committed to this home. Don’t worry, that money goes towards the purchase of said home if all goes well! This is a busy time but be sure to reach out to your RE/MAX agent if you have any questions or are unsure about next steps.

9. Subject Removal

Once you have completed all your subject clauses, and everything went smooth, it is time for you to sign on the dotted line and consider your new home to be yours (almost!).

10. Official Documents

You will need to provide your RE/MAX agent with your preferred lawyer or notary to have the official title transferred into your name. You will meet with the lawyer or notary in person to sign all the legal documents before you move in. This typically happens a few days before you take possession of your new home.

11. Move In!

Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner! The date pre-determined by you is your move-in day! You can now move into your new home. Your RE/MAX agent will be there ready and waiting to hand you the keys. Enjoy!

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Know When to Rent ‘Em, Know When to Buy ‘Em

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We’re told it’s always better to buy than rent. Everyone—from our parents to the banks to the government—encourages us to buy, buy, buy our homes.

But times have changed, and I dare say that these authority figures might be slightly out of touch. The jaw-droppingly high cost of real estate in big cities is encouraging millennials to rent instead of own, causing homeownership rates to drop. At 30 years old, 50.2% of millennials own homes versus 55% of baby boomers at the same age. As a millennial homeowner, I can’t help but wonder if I’m generationally displaced.

There’s an old misconception out there about renting that needs to be addressed. You’re not “throwing away your money” if you’re renting. While that familiar axiom might be true sometimes, there are plenty of circumstances in which it does actually make more sense to rent than buy.

You Might Choose to Rent If…

…You Invest What You Save

Renting tends to come with lower carrying costs than owning. Typically, all you’ll have to worry about paying as a renter is, well, the rent (clearly) and perhaps a share of utilities. This leaves you with extra monthly cash to invest, which can ultimately put you on even financial footing or better with a homeowner.

As always, there’s a familiar caveat here: You need to be financially disciplined for this strategy to pay off. One mistake I see a lot is that those who rent tend to fall prey to something called ‘lifestyle inflation.’ Rather than investing what they save as renters, they just rent nicer apartments, eat at fancier restaurants, and put more money into their wardrobe than their RRSP. But this money vacuum can be easily avoided by:

1. Budgeting to find out how much you have left over to invest each month after factoring out all your expenses, then;

2. Funneling that leftover money directly into your investments. Some robo-advisors, like Wealthsimple, allow you to do this automatically via pre-authorized contributions, which set recurring transfers from your chequing account into your investment portfolio, at whatever amount and interval you choose.

…You Have Rent Control, aka the Urban Holy Grail

Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the urban miracle known as rent control. That means your landlord can only increase your rent by the rate of inflation, which in turn keeps your cost of living way down and leaves you with more money to invest. In Canada, rent control is now implemented in most big cities like Toronto and Vancouver (although not in Montreal).

…You Have a Mobile Lifestyle

Renting makes it easier to move; if you’d like to relocate it’s usually as simple as giving your landlord 60 days written notice. But when you own a home you’re more tied down, and the obligation to be near your property may prevent you from chasing new adventures in faraway lands. I once turned down a fantastic job opportunity in Dallas, Texas for this very reason.

…You’re on a Tight Budget

Renting tends to be more affordable than buying in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. I know, I know, renting is still unreasonably pricey in certain neighborhoods. But buying in those same areas can be arm-and-a-leg expensive.

When you rent, all you have to come up with is the first and last month’s rent; no need to scrimp and save to pull together a massive down payment on a house, which, incidentally, will take you two to four times longer to save than it did your parents.

And homeownership leads to a lot of other costs aside from mortgage payments. When you buy real estate, you’ll need to pay closing costs, which typically add up to between 1.5%–4% of the property’s purchase price and can include a home inspection fee, real estate lawyer fee, land transfer taxes, and homeowners insurance (sometimes you’ll have to fork over an entire year’s worth of home insurance as one lump sum).

There’s also the elephant in the room that nobody likes to speak about: repairs and maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for paying the big bucks for costly home repairs, such as a new roof and furnace, and are advised to set aside 3–5% of a home’s value toward home repairs and maintenance each year. Renters, on the other hand, can just call their landlord whenever they need repairs (provided the landlord actually picks up). Still, it’s important that tenants know their rights when renting to be aware of which fees do and don’t fall under their responsibility.

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A Montreal Real Estate Broker Answered 5 Qs About Buying A Property To Rent Out

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You’ve probably heard that Montreal’s real estate market is on fire. But how can you get in on the action? According to Alex Marshall, a local real estate broker, buying a property as an investment for the purpose of renting it out is a great way to go about it.

Marshall, who’s part of the Keller Williams Prestige team, sat down with us to explain why and how to purchase an investment property. These types of properties are also known as revenue properties.

Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?

Marshall used personal experience to highlight the advantages of owning a revenue property. He’s currently renting out the Saint-Henri loft he bought in 2010.

“Not only is my tenant paying off my mortgage, but I’m making a couple 100 bucks a month as well,” Marshall said.

Marshall was also able to take out a line of credit on the property, he said, and use the equity to buy an additional property.

“You actually don’t need to live in the property that you buy. I’m seeing clients who are in apartments with low rent [who] don’t want to move but have got the money right now … and are looking for smart ways to invest,” he said.

What are some tips to help people save up for a revenue property?

When Marshall was saving up to buy his first property, he said he worked a second job. 

“There’s a lot of value to having that side hustle … even if it’s at Subway or it’s at a landscaping company on Saturdays. It will add up significantly in the long run,” he said.

He gave the example of adding $5,000 to your annual income.

Marshall said you can qualify to borrow roughly four times your annual salary for a mortgage so $5,000 could actually provide you with an extra $20,000 of buying power.

“That might get you a second bedroom, that might get you a parking spot, that might get you a larger space,” he said.

The pandemic, Marshall said, has also helped some of his clients save extra funds.

“You can’t travel, you can’t go to the restaurant, you can’t go to the theatre, you can’t go to the bar. So a lot of people right now are finding themselves with almost a disposable income,” he said.

Marshall also recommends looking into Canada’s Home Buyers’ Plan program, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 — — tax-free — from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to put toward buying or building a qualifying home. 

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