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Some important considerations for employers during the hiring process - II

A few weeks back, we discussed how even though business owners in every field understandably want to fill their employee roster with the best and brightest, they must always take steps to ensure compliance with federal discrimination laws, as the failure to do so can have serious consequences.

To that end, we spent some time examining what is -- and isn't -- permitted during the advertising and recruiting process, particularly as it relates to help-wanted advertisements and word-of-mouth recruitment.

We'll continue this discussion in today's post, looking at what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has to say about one of the most vital components of the hiring process: applications.

Job applications

Once the window for accepting applications has closed, the hard work really begins for a business owner, as they must parse through a large number of resumes, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of candidates and deciding which are deserving of an interview.

While it perhaps goes without saying that business owners cannot discriminate against any applicant on the basis of their age, religion, race, color, sex, disability or national origin, it's important to understand that this prohibition similarly covers more subtle -- yet equally pernicious -- forms of discrimination in the application process.

For instance, any decisions an employer makes during the application process cannot be based on assumptions and/or stereotypes about a particular applicant's age, religion, race, color, sex, disability or national origin. For example, a business owner cannot simply assume that an applicant would be unable to perform some of the more physically demanding components of the job owing to their gender and therefore rule them out as a candidate.

Similarly, if a business owner wants applicants to take a test, something that is legally permissible, it must be 1) necessary and related to the employment, and 2) not exclude applicants on the basis of age, religion, race, color, sex, disability or national origin.

Finally, business owners must know that if a disabled job applicant requires an accommodation in order to considered for a position, they are legally obligated to provide it, so long as it is neither unduly expensive nor significantly difficult to honor. For example, an employer would likely need to provide a sign language interpreter for a hearing-impaired applicant.

As before, our purpose in sharing this information is not to alarm business owners, but rather impress upon them the importance of regular consultations with a skilled legal professional as doing so can help ensure compliance and limit exposure.    

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