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Job descriptions: Craft with precision to avoid bias risk

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

THE LAW. While no federal law requires your organization to write job descriptions for each employee, it's a wise legal move that most employers follow.

When drafting job descriptions, be especially careful to avoid job qualifications that could be viewed as discriminatory. Federal laws make it illegal to discriminate against applicants or em-ployees on the basis of their race, skin color, gender, religious beliefs, national origin, disability or age. Plus, many states prohibit discrimination based on other characteristics, including marital status and sexual orientation.

That doesn't mean these topics are always taboo in job descriptions. In certain limited circumstances, employers may have legitimate reasons to hire employees of a particular gender, age, religion or ethnicity, even though such a preference would normally be illegal. These are called bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exceptions.

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