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Lame excuses for rejecting candidates can land you in court

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Say the wrong thing during the hiring process, and you’ve got a lawsuit on your hands.

Here are three tips to help keep supervisors’ feet out of their mouths: 1) Make sure job announcements are accurate. 2) Handle initial screening with a system that ranks applicants against qualifications listed in the job announcements. 3) Train supervisors who conduct interviews to concentrate on candidates’ ability to meet essential job functions.

Finally, warn supervisors to avoid making excuses for why rejected candidates weren’t selected. Lame last-minute excuses can turn the best recruiting efforts into a lawsuit.

Recent case: Patrick D’Cunha was 49 when he applied for an entry-level position as a pharmacist for Eckerd. He ranked well enough on an initial telephone screening to earn an in-person interview.

During the interview, D’Cunha said he could work at any Eckerd store accessible by public transportation. The hiring supervisor rejected him, saying other candidates were better qualified, including a pharmacist with 25 years experience. The supervisor added that the job he had interviewed for was at a store not served by public transportation.

When D’Cunha learned that job offers were made to younger pharmacists and that the store was accessible by public transportation, he suspected age discrimination and sued. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a trial, concluding that the false excuse offered by the hiring supervisor was evidence that the real motive was age discrimination. A jury will decide. (D’Cunha v. Genovese/Eckerd Corporation, No. 04-0391-CV, 2nd Cir., 2007)  

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