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Committee choosing employees for promotion? Insist on complete record of selection factors

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

It’s hard picking which employees to promote and which ones to pass over, especially when a committee must make the decision. First, there is the sifting through résumés and applications. Then, there come rounds of interviews, scoring each candidate. By the time the committee decides, the members often are exhausted and don’t want to think about the decision.

That’s when the HR professional overseeing the selection process should get proactive by insisting that the committee document the proc­­ess. It should provide a clear and concise account, including a list of the winning candidate’s characteristics that the committee found most relevant and compelling as it made its decision.

Recent case: Kenneth Nunley, who is black, lost out on a promotion that went to a white candidate. Nunley sued, alleging that he had been passed over because of his race.

But the selection committee provided a list of the qualities it said justified choosing the other applicant, such as extensive experience, ability to communicate well and education. The committee also offered assessments of the other candidates, listing their positive and negative qualities.

Nunley couldn’t argue with the list, nor could he show that he was clearly better qualified than the other applicants. Without something specific indicating prejudice, Nunley couldn’t get past the committee’s carefully drawn list explaining the process.

That was enough for the court to toss out his lawsuit. (Nunley v. City of Waco, No. 11-50119, 5th Cir., 2011)

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