Document every step of the interview process for new applicants and internal candidates. Make sure the process is uniform and that every interviewee gets the same treatment. For example, don’t cut some interviews short after talking to another candidate for an hour. Ask consistent interview questions.
Keep notes, use checklists and save everything just in case there’s a lawsuit.
Recent case: Zinoviy filed an internal discrimination complaint that his employer dismissed as unproven. Shortly after, he applied for a promotion that included a test and interview. He scored third on the test and was among those offered an interview.
After a brief interview that included the supervisor Zinoviy had earlier accused of discrimination, he learned he hadn’t made the cut. Someone with higher scores was promoted.
Zinoviy sued for retaliation, arguing that his brief interview and quick rejection proved it.
A jury sided with Zinoviy and awarded him $250,000.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the award and dismissed the claim because Zinoviy couldn’t prove that other candidates’ interviews were longer, used different questions or otherwise were substantially different from his experience. (Levitant v. City of New York, No. 13-200, 2nd Cir., 2014)
Final note: Using objective standards like test scores helps show you weren’t playing promotion favorites or using promotion as a way to punish complaints. In an ideal world, the promotion process wouldn’t involve anyone who had been mentioned in a previous internal complaint.