Increasing the diversity of your workplace makes sense as a business strategy. After all, America is becoming more diverse and so is your customer base.
But you may worry that trying to hire a wider range of candidates may leave you open to reverse discrimination claims.
However, as long as you consider all candidates on their individual merits and not solely because of what sex, age, race or ethnicity they belong to, your efforts at diversity won’t get you in trouble. Just cast your recruiting net wider to capture more qualified applicants in general. Then pick the best.
Recent case: Catherine, who is white, was hired as a substance abuse counselor at a time Soar Corp. was trying to diversify its staff. Soar serves a predominantly black client base.
When Catherine was subsequently fired for not meeting quotas for weekly counseling sessions, she sued, alleging race discrimination.
She claimed that the company had publicly stated after winning a big counseling grant, it would work on diversifying its counseling staff, and that this was somehow proof that Catherine had been fired in order to hire black counselors.
The court tossed out her lawsuit. It said striving for diversity is fine as long as no individual suffers discrimination. Since Catherine couldn’t show she was singled out for discharge for missing quotas while nonwhite counselors were not, she had no claim. (Mussa v. Soar, No. 13-2847, ED PA, 2014)