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Do you destroy hiring documents? Track process anyway

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Hiring,Human Resources

Nothing generates paper like the hiring process, especially if it involves multiple interviews and committee meetings. What do you do with all that paper?

If you destroy it, be prepared to show you do so routinely. Otherwise, a jury or judge may view the destruction as evidence you have something to hide. You also may have to mitigate the missing physical evidence by presenting testimony about the selection process. Therefore, track who was part of the hiring process, even if you throw out the paper.

Recent case: Suzan Russell, who worked as a visiting professor of English at the University of Texas, was not selected for a tenure-track position. She sued, alleging gender discrimination, and discovered that the selection committee had destroyed the notes they made on each candidate. But the university said it routinely destroyed the documents—in this case, a scaled ranking of each applicant—after interviews.

The 5th Circuit said that as long as there was testimony from the selection committee members about the hiring process and the jury knew the paper records were gone, there was no harm. But it left open the possibility that, without that testimony, a judge might rule the destruction of documents was proof of bad faith in the selection process. (Russell v. University of Texas, No. 06-50102, 5th Cir., 2007) 

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