Your potential allies in case of a lawsuit: Applicants who turned down a job offer

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Here’s a case that shows how important it is to keep good records of the interview and hiring process. When a rejected applicant sued, an employer ended up having to call in former applicants to whom it had offered jobs but who had turned down the offers. The employer won the case on the strength of those other candidates’ testimony.

Recent case: John applied for a township manager position and sued when he wasn’t selected for a second interview. He claimed the reason was his ongoing military service obligation in the United States Air Force Reserves. He said his rejection violated the Uniformed Services Employ­­­ment and Reemployment Act.

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the township “has the burden of producing a legitimate reason for the adverse employment action that is so overwhelming, ‘so compelling,’ and ‘so meagerly contested’ that there is no genuine dispute that the employee would have received the same treatment regardless of his future military ­obligations.”

That’s a tough burden, but after a six-day trial, the township prevailed. Key testimony came from three applicants who got a second interview and an offer. They showed the jury how much better qualified they were than John. (Murphy v. Radnor Township, No. 11-4743, ED PA, 2014)

Note: This win was possible because the township was able to reach out to former applicants. Had they not testified, there’s a possibility that John would have prevailed.

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