Q. Our company doesn't want to consider unsolicited résumés as applicants. We are trying to come up with a legally sound definition for “applicant” so we can write an official policy. —H.D., Wisconsin
A. The term “applicant” is not expressly defined by law, although the EEOC is currently considering drafting a definition. Instead, the term is defined by a company's own recruitment and selection procedures. As long as the employer's definition is reasonable, it will pass legal muster.
Companies like yours that don't want to consider unsolicited résumés as applicants should specifically state in writing that such submissions will not be considered for employment. Just be sure that everyone involved in hiring follows your definition and procedures.
Here's a simple definition: “An applicant is an individual who submits a company employment application. Unsolicited résumés are not retained or considered. All unsolicited résumés are discarded.”