Discrimination Risks When Hiring

April 10, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

What regulates hiring? Employers working with children or people who are otherwise vulnerable cannot hire people with a history of abuse. What regulates hiring? A host of new laws limiting the ability of employers to discriminate based on certain criteria, such as a criminal record.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

During the 2014 Nonprofit Risk Summit, Erin Gloeckner and Melanie Lockwood Herman of the Nonprofit Management Risk Center detailed new laws that can cause problems for organizations trying to weed out undesirable job candidates.

For example, there are best practices guidelines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding use of criminal records:

  •  Eliminate policies that exclude people from employment based on any criminal record. Use a narrowly tailored policy.
  •  Identify essential job requirements, specific offenses that might demonstrate unfitness, determine duration of exclusions, record justification, keep records of research and decision-making.
  •  Keep information about applicants’ and employees’ criminal records confidential. Use it only for the purpose for which it was intended. And, how about use of credit reports? Keep these items in mind: 10 states restrict the use of applicant/employee credit history (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington).
  •  A proposed new federal law: the “Equal Employment for All Act.”

And before checking social media sites to learn about a candidate, remember it is possible to learn from such a site things like medical information, age, family status/details, religion — in other words, the very things an employer is not allowed to consider when making employment decisions.