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Transparency is key to lawsuit-Proof promotions process

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If, like most organizations, you prefer to promote from within, here’s a good rule of thumb: Make sure your job descriptions are up-to-date and accurate, and always review them when you have a job to fill.

Then, match the job announcement to the job description, making sure you identify all the essential functions, education and training requirements and other important factors such as shift and overtime requirements. Your objective is to encourage as many qualified internal applicants as possible, while dissuading those who are only marginally qualified.

Next, screen each application to make certain each meets the minimum requirements. Rank them all (or just the top few if there are many candidates) by how well their résumés meet the qualifications. Finally, interview and choose the best qualified of the lot.

If you play your cards right, not only will you have selected the best applicant for the job, but also you will be able to easily justify your selection if a disgruntled and rejected applicant sues.

Recent case: Edith Enwonwu, a black female of Nigerian national origin, sued her hospital employer after she first was denied a promotion and then fired for other reasons.

Enwonwu wanted a newly created daytime help-desk position. The job posting made clear that the hospital wanted to hire someone with extensive experience. It accepted Enwonwu’s application and interviewed her. But since she scored lower than two other applicants when ranked by experience, she wasn’t selected. Instead, the hospital selected another black female with 17 years’ experience in the health care industry and 12 years’ experience in information systems. The chosen applicant also had very specific experience in running a hospital help-desk, having done so for almost a decade.

Because the selected candidate had more experience than the other applicants, the hospital had no trouble defending its selection. (Enwonwu v. Fulton-Dekalb Hospital Authority, No. 07-13498, 11th Cir., 2008)

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