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Train bosses: Snap decisions almost always risky

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Do you train managers and supervisors on how to treat applicants? If not, you should.

Treating an applicant rudely or making snap judgments can mean ending up in court, trying to defend against charges of race or other perceived discrimination.

Here’s a case you can use as an example of how not to greet an applicant even if you are sure he won’t be hired.

Recent case: Robert, who is black, is a certified master electrician. He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which referred members to various employers. Following earlier referrals with no apparent problems, Robert worked on several projects for Hewitt-Young Electric.

Then Robert received another referral to the company. He arrived, entered the lobby and waited. It was then that the president of the company walked in, looked at Robert and allegedly stated, “No, this is not going to work out.” He physically pushed Robert out the front door.

Robert sued, alleging that he had not been hired on account of his race.

The company argued that Robert had been intoxicated and that was why the company president sent him packing. But the court said a jury should decide what happened that day.

If it determines that Robert’s account was correct, it will have to decide if the owner rejected him because he saw he was black. (Salters v. Hewitt-Young Electric, No. 15-CV-6040, WD NY, 2015)

Final note: A better approach would have been to pull Robert aside in a private setting and discuss the apparent suspicion that he might be intoxicated.

Physically pushing him out the door sent a terrible message. It’s seldom a good idea to publicly humiliate anyone—applicant, employee or customer.

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