There are 4 types of discrimination that can arise during the hiring process.You might think that it’s no longer necessary to talk about discrimination in hiring. We’re all past that, right? Apparently we’re not. Just last week the Washington Post covered a case in Texas where a 40-year-old woman was passed over TWICE for a job in favor of younger, less qualified candidates. You can read the article about that case HERE. Yes, the woman is suing, and if she wins her former employer will have to pay a sizable settlement.
But let’s get back to you and your business. When you choose to hire inclusively, you demonstrate that you value diversity (and each person’s unique contribution) in your business. Even if you are not motivated in that way, it’s important to remember that discrimination in recruiting is ILLEGAL. It can cost you in hard-earned dollars. Even if you know that you yourself aren’t discriminating, it is important to make sure that nobody else who is screening or interviewing job candidates in your company is doing it either.
- Race, color, gender, religion or national origin. This was made illegal more than 50 years ago, via The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal law applies to organizations with 15 or more employees.
- Persons aged 40 years old and older. Age discrimination was rendered illegal in The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. When your business has 20 or more employees, you are compelled to comply with this. This law is why you can’t ask how old someone is when you are interviewing them. If you ask that question you open the door to perceptions that you are being discriminatory based on age.
- Pregnant women, or with related medical conditions. In 1975 an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was passed, making it illegal to refuse to employ a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition. The basic principle of the act is that a woman affected by pregnancy or other related medical condition must be treated the same as any other applicant in the recruitment and selection process.
- People with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in employers with 15 or more employees. The ADA also requires that the employer offer reasonable accommodations to disabled individuals so that they could have equal opportunity to be hired for job openings, and (if hired) to be successful in their job function.
Remember that these are only the Federal laws. Many state and local municipalities have standards that extend beyond the scope of the Federal regulations. It is on you to make sure you are up to date with the state and local legal criteria governing your hiring practices. For more information about legal compliance at the Federal level go to the EEOC website or that of the Department of Labor.