Beware new legal threat of accepting ‘walk-in’ applicants

Employment attorneys are increasingly warning companies to avoid relying too heavily on walk-in job applicants. While there's no legal requirement to advertise a job opening, employers who don't do it may be unintentionally discouraging members of a protected class, resulting in an "unbalanced" work force.

At issue: so-called "disparate impact" discrimination, in which a company practice that appears neutral actually has a negative impact on a protected class. For example, if your office is in a white neighborhood, minorities may be deterred from applying.

Advice: Always weigh the demographics of your local labor market and your existing work force. Expand your search if you can't be assured of reaching a good mix of applicants.