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When discouraged applicants sue, don’t ‘Blacklist’ them

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Here’s a trap you should be aware of: An applicant who sues when he isn’t hired often keeps on applying—and then turns around and claims that you “blacklisted” him in retaliation for the lawsuit.

Here’s how you should respond: Accept each new application as you would any other. If the applicant is actually qualified for the position, grant an interview. If the candidate is the best qualified, swallow your pride and hire him despite the lawsuit. That way, you won’t end up losing a retaliation lawsuit—something that can happen even if the original complaint is dismissed.

Recent case: Gordon Parker, who is black and disabled, submitted his résumé to the University of Pennsylvania through its web site. But Penn only considers electronic résumés submitted in response to specific openings.

Parker sued, alleging race, disability and sex discrimination. And he started submitting applications for specific jobs—100 of them. In fact, the university hired Parker for a temporary transcription job and eventually—because he did a good job—for several others. He claimed, however, that he had been blacklisted in retaliation for raising discrimination when he wasn’t hired in the first place.

The court dismissed all his claims. First, it said Penn had a legitimate reason for not considering his résumé the first time—the school called only those who applied for specific jobs. And blacklisting was not credible, since Parker did actually get a job when he applied the right way. (Parker v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, No. 05-4874, ED PA, 2008)

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