Unfair Hiring Practices Examples - Shegerian Law

Employment laws were established to protect employees’ rights in the workplace. But, many people don’t realize that these laws also protect the rights of those that are looking for employment. To ensure that qualified applicants do not have trouble finding a job because they belong to a certain protected class, the law has prohibited certain job recruitment tactics that are considered discriminatory.

Protecting Job Seekers: 5 Illegal Recruitment Tactics

There are many ways that an employer can discriminate against a certain protected class during recruiting. Here are five examples:

Example #1: Posting A Help Wanted Ad For Male Applicants Only

Employers must welcome diversity when trying to find someone to fill an open position within the organization. This means they should encourage applicants of all different genders, races, colors, national origins, and abilities. But unfortunately, many employers try to attract very specific candidates by posting job advertisements that violate federal law. For example, specifying that a job is only for men will discourage female candidates from applying, and thus violate the law.

In fact, calling out any specific protected class in a job advertisement is illegal. This means employers cannot make references to solely hiring certain candidates or preferring candidates based on their race, color, age, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.

Example #2: Relying Solely on Word-of-Mouth Recruiting

If a position opens up within an organization, some employers ask their best employees if they know of anyone who is currently looking for a new job. The employees then get an opportunity to refer a friend or colleague that may be qualified for the position. This is known as word-of-mouth recruiting. In most cases, word-of-mouth recruiting is perfectly legal, however there are some instances where word-of-mouth recruiting may be considered an illegal job recruitment tactic.

For example, let’s say an organization consists of ten employees who are all white men in their 30s. The company asks their employees if they know anyone who is currently looking for a job. Several of the employees provide names of family members, friends, or colleagues to their employer. In this scenario, it’s possible that many, if not all, of the people referred by the employees will also be white males in their 30s. Therefore, if the company continues to rely only on word-of-mouth recruiting, they could be inadvertently discriminating against potential applicants of other races, genders, colors, national origins, ages, and disabilities.

To prevent this problem, the EEOC recommends that companies only rely on word-of-mouth recruiting if they already have a diverse workforce. If the workforce is diverse, the people who are referred to the employer for openings will also be diverse.

Example #3: Asking An Employment Agency to Search For White Employees Only

Large companies often partner with employment agencies when they need to fill open positions. The employment agency is responsible for recruiting and screening new applicants to find the perfect fit for the company’s opening. Before they begin their search, the employment agency will meet with the employer to learn more about their ideal candidate. However, the employer cannot tell the employment agency to only recruit employees that are a certain race. In fact, the employer cannot ask the employment agency to recruit employees based on any of the protected classes, such as race, color, national origin, and gender. Even though the employer is not the one that will actively be recruiting, they can still be held liable in a situation like this, and so can the employment agency if they choose to follow these orders.

Example #4: Only Recruiting From Homogeneous Sources

Another illegal tactic that employers use when looking for new employees is recruiting solely from homogeneous sources. What does this mean? Let’s say an employer is looking for low-wage employees to work part-time over the summer. Since the job would be ideal for high school students, the employer decides to recruit employees at one of the local high schools. However, the company chooses a high school that is all female. If this is the employer’s only recruitment strategy, the vast majority of the applicants will be females from this high school. This is not a diverse job applicant pool, which is why employers should establish other recruitment strategies to supplement this one.

Example #5: Listing Unnecessary Educational Requirements on the Job Posting

Every job listing should contain information on what the employer is looking for in a candidate. For instance, if the employer is looking for candidates with a MBA degree, this should be stated in the job listing. But, an employer that lists unnecessary educational requirements could be found in violation of federal law.

An employer cannot get in legal trouble if they only list educational requirements that are necessary to perform the job. However, listing additional educational requirements that are clearly not necessary for the job could be considered discriminatory behavior if doing so excludes the majority of a certain race. For example, let’s say an employer needs to find someone who has a bachelor’s degree in business, but the employer also states that the applicant should have a MBA as well, even though this is not necessary. If all of the Hispanics in the job applicant pool have bachelor degrees, but do not have MBAs, including the MBA requirement will exclude all Hispanic applicants. Since the MBA is not necessary to perform the job, this would be considered an illegal job recruitment tactic.

Do you know of an employer that is using one of these illegal job recruitment tactics? If so, seek legal representation from an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible so you can tell your story. Our employment law attorneys at Shegerian & Associates are ready to fight to protect the rights of employees.  Contact us today by calling 1-800-GOT-FIRED.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.