Employers sometimes have several similar jobs that require almost identical skills, certificates or training. But that doesn’t mean that all these positions can’t have different hiring requirements. Just make sure you can justify the differences.
Recent case: Rogue Barrientos worked for the city of Eagle Pass as a firefighter. He quit to work for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. However, that job fell through after a few days and Barrientos was interested in returning to his old job. He reapplied when he learned there was an opening.
But the city required all new hires for firefighter positions to pass an agility test. Barrientos couldn’t pass the test and therefore wasn’t rehired.
When he learned that two women had been hired to emergency medical technician (EMT) jobs without undergoing an agility test, he sued, alleging sex discrimination.
His argument was that the jobs were virtually identical and involved the same certifications and education. Therefore, he contended, they should have had the same hiring requirements.
The city argued that while EMTs might treat patients at fire scenes, they didn’t respond to fires and fight them.
That alone was reason enough not to require the agility test. Plus, the EMT positions were part-time jobs, while the one Barrientos wanted was full time.
The court agreed with the city and dismissed Barrientos’ case. The two jobs weren’t similar enough to warrant identical hiring criteria. (Barrientos v. City of Eagle Pass, No. 11-50265, 5th Cir., 2011)