Avoiding Discrimination in the Job Interviewing Process

Discrimination in a job interview, discrimination in hiring concept.

Every business owner knows the importance of taking steps to avoid discrimination in hiring. Not only is discrimination morally wrong, but it can also quickly land a company in legal hot water. However, not all businesses understand that discrimination can happen even during a job interview.

If your company is planning to increase its workforce, it is imperative that it treats all applicants fairly. The New York business lawyers of Rosenbaum & Taylor explain how to ensure discrimination doesn’t happen during interviews.

The Basics of Anti-Discrimination Laws

Both the federal and New York governments have anti-discrimination laws and regulations in place with respect to business practices. These laws cover employment practices in particular. From interviewing and hiring until retirement or otherwise leaving a company, employees are protected from discrimination.

When conducting a job interview, a business cannot:

  • Deny an applicant an interview based on a protected characteristic like race or religion
  • Deliberately not consider an applicant for employment based on a protected characteristic
  • Attempt to classify an applicant for purposes of discriminating against them

The last item, classifying applicants, raises questions of which classifications in particular are illegal. Under federal civil rights statutes, a potential employer seeking to hire cannot use such classifications as

  • Race
  • Color
  • Sex, which includes pregnancy and sexual orientation
  • Age over 40
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Disability

Note that other federal protections may apply, and that New York has even stricter laws against employment discrimination. Although a potential employer can ask about these topics, it should tread carefully. Mere curiosity in asking personal questions may be allowable.

But a New York business attorney will caution a company to not make hiring decisions based on:

  • An applicant’s answers about his or her membership in a protected class
  • The fact that an applicant is a member of a protected class
  • Any stereotypes based on an applicant’s membership in a protected class

Discrimination in Hiring Doesn’t Have to Be Overt

It’s one thing to openly discriminate against a job applicant. Directly informing someone they won’t be hired because of race, for instance, is obviously illegal. And companies are generally wise enough to avoid these sorts of practices.

But most job interviewing discrimination is more subtle. It’s imperative that individuals in your company responsible for interviewing and hiring avoid even the appearance of discrimination.

Properly educating and training your human resources leaders, managers, and other such individuals is one step to prevent this. Your organization should also adopt policies and procedures that govern how interviews are conducted. This allows your business to control the interviewing process so costly errors are not made. But policies and procedures are only effective if they are strictly enforced.

Our New York business law attorneys can help with these steps.

We can also review your existing business practices to identify and eliminate problematic areas. In the event your company is sued for discrimination, correctly handling it will take a quick legal response. Our lawyers can defend you in litigation and possibly settle a lawsuit on terms that are favorable to your company.

Let Us Help Protect the Rights and Interests of Your Business

The above are only a few ways that our New York business and corporate law attorneys advocate for the rights of companies. Our goal is to help keep your business from making devastating legal mistakes. Find out more about our services by calling Rosenbaum & Taylor today.

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