If the people reviewing employment applications don’t know the race of the candidates, they can’t discriminate for or against any particular applicant. That’s why you should consider using a “blind” application process.
Here’s how: Make sure the EEO form candidates complete is separate from the job application, so reviewers won’t know those details. Black out names and other identifiable information, assigning a number to each application instead. That way, no one can say you filtered out ethnic-sounding names. Finally, avoid preliminary phone interviews, which can reveal sex, ethnicity and national origin. Instead, identify the strongest candidates on paper and then arrange interviews.
Recent case: Law school graduate Dev Iyer, a self-described “colored Asian, Asian Indian and Hindu,” saw an ad the IRS posted on campus. He applied but was not invited for an interview. The IRS eventually hired two white males.
Iyer sued, alleging race and other discrimination. But the IRS could show that the person reviewing the applications did not know the race, religion or other characteristics of the candidates—he only knew their educational backgrounds, experience and law school grades. The IRS said Iyer didn’t get an interview because he had poor grades and no experience.
A jury—and later, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals—said there was no evidence of discrimination, since the IRS based its interview and hiring decisions strictly on experience and grades, and the person making the selection didn’t know any applicant’s race or religion. (Iyer v. Everson, et al., No. 06-1539, 3rd Cir., 2007)
Final note: The EEOC sometimes submits test résumés to employers, including some with ethnic-sounding names, to see what response the résumés generate. If you use a blind application process, this won’t trip you up.
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