Do you have an employee who consistently applies for open positions for which she falls short on qualifications? You may be tempted to “lose” or “misplace” her applications. Be bigger than that. Instead, exercise patience and handle her applications just as you would for any other applicant.
Recent case: Angela Gibson, who is white, works for Walgreen drug stores. Beginning in 2004, Gibson began applying for numerous open positions. After being turned down several times in favor of other applicants who were members of various protected classes, she suspected race discrimination. She complained to HR about her lack of promotion opportunities.
She finally filed a lawsuit several years later, in which she alleged that she had been denied many promotions.
For most of her claims, the company could show that it had hired someone who had better qualifications, education or training or who did better on a test.
However, Gibson was able to show that, for one position, she had never been called for an interview. When she requested a copy of her application, she said she found out that the company had misplaced the application, so she had never actually had been considered. However, HR claimed it had offered her an interview.
Based on the conflicting testimony, the court said Gibson’s claim could go to trial. A jury will decide who remembers these events correctly and whether misplacing the application—if that’s what really happened—was a pretext for not considering Gibson for the job. (Gibson v. Walgreen Co., No. 6:07-CV-1053, MD FL, 2009)
Final note: Develop a good tracking system to log all job applications and notify applicants that you have received their paperwork. Tell applicants upfront that they need to follow up if they don’t hear back.
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