Avoid the Legal Nightmare of Discrimination in Hiring Employees

Category: Articles
Posted: 12-04-2010 03:58 AM
Views: 832
Synopsis:

Discrimination itself is not actually illegal. We discriminate every day. When we go to lunch we discriminate against some foods in favor of ones we like. When we make friends we discriminate against some people in favor of others and we do so because of personal like and dislikes. This type of discrimination is, of course, not considered illegal.

Discrimination itself is not actually illegal. We discriminate every day. When we go to lunch we discriminate against some foods in favor of ones we like. When we make friends we discriminate against some people in favor of others and we do so because of personal like and dislikes. This type of discrimination is, of course, not considered illegal.

In terms of discrimination in hiring however things are completely different. Discrimination in employment is serious business. When a manger discriminates against a person at work, they are denying them equal treatment and this is illegal. When hiring an employee an organization can only make decisions based on relevant job related skills, knowledge or ability. They cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability.


If a company has 20 or more employees it is illegal for them to refuse to hire an otherwise qualified applicant simply because they belong to one of these protected groups. This is federal law and state law in most states goes even further in these protections. Employers are liable for any discriminatory action by their employees and by agencies that supply their employees. Individuals who have experience this discrimination are encouraged to seek monetary damages in civil court.

Interviewers have to be extremely careful about what questions they ask in an interview. Even if there is no malicious intent in the questions, the courts will assume that this information was used in a discriminatory manner. Questions like "What type of accent is that?", "Do you plan on getting pregnant" or "Were you born in the United States?" are questions that are not relevant to the interview and could lead to a discrimination claim if the applicant is not hired. It's better to be safe than sorry and make sure that you don't ask the same questions of every candidate and that the questions are pre-planned and screened to make sure that they are legal.

It is especially important to watch what you say in the informal beginning of an interview when you are trying to make the candidate feel at ease. The small talk in these instances can be a danger zone. Even something as innocuous as "Are you married?" or "We have great schools around here. Do you have kids." could come back to haunt you.

Employment discrimination is a very serious business. We may discriminate in a legally benign way in our day-to-day lives, but when we are at work there is a legal minefield. Employees who interview and hire in your company are properly trained into the legal aspects of employment law. Otherwise, a legal nightmare might be in your future.

Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of hiring and interviewing training videos for TrainingABC. TrainingABC is a distributor of behavioral interviewing video and DVD programs such as More Than a Gut Feeling.

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