Here’s a simple tip that can save you lots of headaches: Document the exact date an applicant submits her paperwork and the date of each decision related to her application.
Recent case: Tamara worked as a social studies teacher and a cheerleading coach for a school district.
When parents complained that she wasn’t traveling to away games with the cheerleaders and otherwise providing the sort of support they believed was necessary, the school board decided not to renew her contract for the following year.
Tamara kept applying for coaching positions, but wasn’t selected. She also applied for other open positions with the school district, again to no avail.
Then she spoke out at a school board meeting against what she believed was unequal funding for girls’ sports. Around the same time, she filed an EEOC lawsuit alleging retaliation, along with various forms of discrimination.
But the school district had records that showed exactly when Tamara had applied and when she was rejected for every job she had sought. Every decision point on those applications occurred before she spoke to the school board.
Therefore, it was clear to the court that no retaliation occurred. You can’t retaliate for protected activity that happens after you have decided not to hire someone. (White v. Cleary, et al., No. 12-1953, 3rd Cir., 2013)
Final note: If you haven’t created a hiring system with checks to track every point in the process, now is a good time to do so.
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