To ward off any hint of hiring bias, develop a tracking system that allows you to easily show who applied for jobs and where you routed their applications.
Also, it’s best to send all applicants an acknowledgment and final notice of the status of their applications. But keep your notice simple: All rejected applicants need to know is that you selected someone else for the job.
Applicants who never hear back from employers often suspect the worst. If they think you “round-filed” their applications in a trash can, they’ll be quicker to perceive discrimination and sue.
Best bet: Train managers and supervisors to follow exact routing procedures, such as forwarding all misdirected applications to the HR department.
Recent case: When Bonnie Brackett decided to apply for an internal promotion, she sent her application to her supervisor instead of to the central office, as the announcement had instructed.
Her supervisor gave Brackett’s application a quick glance and saw she didn’t have the experience specified in the job posting. He put her application in his desk drawer.
The employer received and screened 20,000 applications for the position, then selected a highly qualified applicant. Brackett sued, alleging race discrimination.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed her case, reasoning that she failed to show that she was qualified for the position. Her supervisor testified he was amazed she had the “audacity” to apply for a position for which she clearly wasn’t qualified. (Brackett v. Alabama Department of Transportation, No. 05-12460, 11th Cir., 2006)
Tip: This employer could have avoided suspicion of any wrongdoing if it had had a policy that required supervisors to forward all job applications to HR.