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It’s a buyer’s market: Hire the best candidates over those who meet minimum requirements

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

New York state’s unemployment rate is 8.4% (New York City stands at 9.4%), and many employers are discovering they have many—perhaps dozens—of well-qualified applicants for each opening. That means they can choose among people who may have much more experience than the position’s stated minimum requirements.

That may leave some perfectly qualified applicants wondering why they weren’t picked.

Don’t fret about selecting the applicant with the best résumé. While you may be sued by another applicant who believes some form of discrimination must have been at work in the selection process, that lawsuit won’t go far.

Recent case: Patricia Robinson applied for a job as a pipefitter with Delphi when the company sought new hires to replace retiring employees. She met the minimum requirements for the job, including experience and education.

But several other candidates had more specific and longer experience than the minimum required for the position. Those candidates were hired; Robinson was not.

She sued, alleging sex discrimination since she was the only female applicant.

The court dismissed her case. It explained that employers are free to choose candidates who have more than the minimum qualifications for an open position. That doesn’t imply they were discriminating against other applicants. (Robinson v. Delphi, No. 08-CV-6361, WD NY, 2010)

Final note: The key is to document the hiring decision-making process. Be prepared to show how the applicants you selected were better qualified. Be sure to retain all applications and résumés.

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