The more specific and clear the minimum hiring or promotion criteria, the better. Detailed requirements net you better candidates and allow you to defend your hiring decisions later—if you need to. Just be sure to keep good records, including job descriptions, applications and checklists showing how you winnowed the applicant list to come up with the best-qualified candidates.
Recent case: Veretta Ruth, who is black and over age 40, applied for an open position at Owens-Illinois Glass Container. She had worked for the company for a long time, but in a different division. Ruth had experience on the “cold” end of the production line, while the open job was on the “hot” end, where molten glass is formed.
The minimum job requirements included three to five years’ direct experience on the hot end, or equivalent education and successful completion of a company supervisory training course. Ruth passed the course on her third try, having failed twice.
Owens-Illinois rejected Ruth for the promotion and picked a younger, white woman instead. Ruth sued, alleging race and age discrimination.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected her claims. It said Ruth wasn’t qualified for the position because she had neither the experience nor the equivalent education to meet the minimum job requirements. Comparing Ruth to the woman who got the job, the court concluded the selected candidate was far better qualified—she had a 4.0 grade point average, passed the supervisory course on the first try and had experience working in the hot section. (Ruth v. Owens-Illinois, No. 07-40489, 5th Cir., 2007)
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