Ask owners of any thriving business and they will tell you that the old saying really is true: they are only as successful as their employees. Indeed, this reality leads every business owner, regardless of their field, to strive to fill his/her ranks with the best possible candidates.
While this is certainly understandable, it’s imperative for business owners to take steps to ensure that they don’t run afoul of federal discrimination laws in their haste to hire the best and brightest, as doing so can have significant repercussions.
In light of this reality, today’s post, the first in a series, will start taking a closer look at exactly what types of employment policies and practices are prohibited by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Advertising and recruiting
The natural first step in the hiring process for any business owner is to publish a help-wanted advertisement everywhere from company websites and trade journals to online job posting forums and social media outlets.
Whatever the chosen language and form of publication, employers must always understand that they cannot publish a help-wanted advertisement that either discourages or demonstrates a preference for applicants on the basis of their religion, race, color, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, age (40-plus), national origin, genetic information or disability.
While this may seem like an obvious and easy problem to avoid, it can sometimes prove to be considerably trickier than most business owners imagine.
For instance, consider how a help-wanted advertisement asking for “recent college graduates” could be viewed as discouraging job applicants over 40 from applying and therefore discriminatory.
Similarly, employers must not recruit new employees in a way that discriminates against potential applicants on any the aforementioned grounds.
To illustrate, if a business owner relies largely on word-of-mouth recruitment from their predominantly male workforce and men comprise the majority of new hires, this could be viewed as discriminatory.
The purpose of the foregoing discussion was not to frighten business owners, but rather to impress upon them the importance of consulting regularly with an experienced employment attorney to ensure compliance and limit exposure.