Many potential clients seek a silver bullet when it comes to the hiring process. They want to set up electronic application systems and implement pre-employment testing to objectively and efficiently screen applicants so they can hire the best candidates.
They want to optimize the process, to speed the days to hire-up. They want candidates fast. They want a paperless process and a filtering system to eliminate candidates that don’t match their requirements.
Unfortunately, not being sure of what you’re doing, and working with unwise counsel, is a minefield you do not want to find yourself in and the results could be downright explosive.
I recently did some preliminary research on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) cases that have headlined in the past several months, painting a damaging picture of some very prominent companies. The cases revolved around such factors as:
- Pre-employment testing
- Unlawful employment application questions
- Disability discrimination
In actuality, many organizations, even those with the best intentions, ask questions that can inadvertently result in disparate treatment across a broad spectrum of minority candidates. Organizations also rely on invalid forms of pre-employment testing as a screening tool, ones they may not aware might disqualify minority candidates at a higher rate than non-minorities.
As a rule, the organizations that I meet with are not looking to hurt anyone or prevent any person from working at their organization as long as they’re qualified for the position in question. Most not only recognize the benefits that diversity brings to their organization but also share a worldview that embraces all cultures and all people. Regrettably, however, what’s in their heart does not matter one whit to the attorneys and the EEOC who show up to investigate claims of discrimination.
It’s easy to assume that the EEOC focuses only on large corporate organizations, high-profile global entities, as evidenced in such headlines as:
- BMW to Pay $1.6 Million and Offer Jobs to Settle Federal Race Discrimination Lawsuit
- Target to Pay $2.8M to Upper-Level Applicants in EEOC Settlement
- United Airlines to Pay Over $1 Million to Settle Disability Lawsuit
On the contrary, there are many small to mid-sized organizations that are being dragged into court as well. For example:
- Stack Bros. to Pay $140,000 to Settle EEOC Age Discrimination and Retaliation Suit
- Texas Oil Field Services Company Pays $30,000 to Settle EEOC Retaliation Suit
- EEOC Sues Seymour Midwest for Age Discrimination
No organization is too small to escape the potential penalty of discrimination, whether intended or unintended. All it takes is one or more disgruntled workers or applicants.
What might surprise you is that the same risk exists for those working in the nonprofit, church, or ministry sectors—you are just as vulnerable to the consequences of poorly managed human resource practices as any profit-driven enterprise. No altruistic or religious influence will stand up in court as an adequate defense or mitigate damages against your organization. This is just a sampling:
- EEOC Sues United Bible Fellowship Ministries for Pregnancy Discrimination
- Inconsistencies in Termination Decision Wipe Out Good Samaritan Ministries Victory
- King’s Way Baptist Church Sued by EEOC for Retaliation
- Nonprofits, churches, and ministry organizations are generally subject to state and federal laws that prohibit employment discrimination.
What should you do?
Do what great organizations do, and invest in solid HR practices. A qualified HR staff is fully trained and capable of helping you navigate successfully through the practices that can prevent costly litigation and eliminate those practices that might be unintentionally discriminatory.
You need a comprehensive human resources connection that your HR staff can source for this kind of guidance. We’re the map to get you through this minefield.
But it’s not just about risk management. Superior HR practices generate superior job candidates.
Want to read more about the cases cited in this article? Find more information and source articles here.
Mark A. Griffin is founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience. In His Name HR helps organizations build high-performance Human Resource programs. Visit them at In HIS Name HR or Send Email