by Ugo Ukabam, Esq.
Employers operate in an increasingly complex legal environment, made all the more difficult by the tough economy. Hiring has emerged as a particular trouble spot. Here are the key liability hot spots you must watch out for in the hiring process:
A help-wanted ad that directly or indirectly states a preference for applicants based on gender, age, or other protected characteristic is generally unlawful.
When you advertise for an opening, list only the necessary job-related skills and qualifications—for example, “must be able to lift 50 lbs.”—rather than assumptions about who can perform the functions of the position—such as “male furniture-mover wanted.”
There are exceptions to this general rule, such as when an employer has adopted a lawful affirmative action plan or the preferred characteristic is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the position being advertised.
Age, for instance, may be a BFOQ for a part in a movie requiring a child actor. Gender may be a BFOQ for working in a women’s locker room.
Good hiring isn't random or simply luck. It takes careful research, hard work, follow-up and the ability to unmask an applicant's true attitude. Great Hires—Every Time is the concise guide to efficient, hassle-free hiring. Get it here...
Although no law requires employers to maintain job descriptions, it’s a good practice. Thorough descriptions help applicants understand the job’s requirements and discourage poorly suited applicants from applying.
Here are tips for drafting job descriptions:
- List the “essential functions” of the job—the fundamental job duties.
- Identify the skills, knowledge and abilities required to perform the essential functions and any special requirements for the job.
- Include a summary of nonessential functions that an employee may be asked to perform occasionally or intermittently.
- Include descriptions of the work environment, equipment and expected work habits.
- Include a disclaimer that the job description does not constitute an exhaustive list of responsibilities and that management may revise it at any time.
- Review and update descriptions as needed so they remain accurate.
Applications and interviews
Written job applications and face-to-face interviews help hiring managers gather applicant information and assess their qualifications. But asking for some kinds of applicant information may violate anti-discrimination laws. Stick to questions that assess a candidate’s skills, ability or qualifications.
Avoid questions that may trigger stereotypical assumptions about protected class status:
- Marital status: Are you married? Is that your maiden name or your married name?
- Age: How old are you? When did you graduate from high school?
- Disability: Do you have any disabilities that would impair your ability to work? How often were you out sick in your last job?
- Religion: Which church or synagogue do you attend? What religious holidays do you observe?
- Gender/sex: Are you pregnant? What will you do with your children while you are at work?
- National origin/race: Where were you born?
Hiring is a difficult and tedious process. And with today's job market being what it is, it seems candidates might say anything to get a foot in the door. Great Hires — Every Time shows you how to assess the attitude of each applicant, whether you’re scrutinizing a résumé, conducting an interview or making reference checks. The hiring game can be won if you’re armed with the proven techniques and innovative strategies offered in this web exclusive.
Federal law limits employers’ ability to obtain background reports and demand pre-employment medical examinations.
Before checking an applicant’s references, notify the applicant in writing that you will do so, and obtain the applicant’s written consent to the reference checks.
When checking references, ask only for job-related information.
Offers and offer letters
Beware of inadvertently making promises you don’t intend to keep.
Enthusiastic employers often make statements to applicants suggesting long-term or permanent employment, or indicating that, “you will always be treated fairly.” Those statements can easily become ammunition in later breach-of-contract litigation.
Avoid making unintended promises, either orally or in written communications such as offer letters, employment handbooks and personnel policies. That way, you will retain flexibility to respond to personnel issues in the most appropriate way, given the circumstances.
Hiring is only one aspect of managing well, but it’s the most important task you have. If you don’t select the right employees, no amount of good management will turn them into valuable members of your team. And as many experts now believe, hiring the person whose enthusiasm for the job equals (or even outweighs) his skills may be the key to job success.
Great Hires – Every Time contains valuable tools that have been designed to guide you right to your No. 1 candidate. These tools include:
Get your copy today!
- A skills-ranking chart
- Telephone evaluation forms
- An attitude meter
- A sample release form
- A résumé checklist
- Candidate evaluation sheets
- Sample ads
- Sample interview questions
Author: Ugo Ukabam, Esq., is an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment Law Practice in Minneapolis.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/14390/hire-education-a-step-by-step-guide-to-legally-safe-hiring-practices "