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3 Ways To Avoid Discrimination When Hiring

Updated on September 3, 2014

Executive Order 8802: Fair Employment Practice in Defense Industries

Signed by then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941 was the first Federal document to prohibit employment discrimination.
Signed by then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941 was the first Federal document to prohibit employment discrimination. | Source

Employment Discrimination Should Be Avoided

Do you operate a business where you hire employees? Do you have a managerial position where one of your responsibilities is the hiring of employees? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you want to make a conscious effort to avoid discrimination during the hiring process.

You want to avoid discrimination when hiring for a couple of key reasons. First, it is the ethical thing to do. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly. Secondly, discrimination during the hiring process can have legal ramifications.

Considering our second reason, you not only want to avoid discrimination, you also want to avoid the appearance of discrimination.

Here are a few types of workplace discrimination that you want to be conscious of:

  • race
  • gender
  • religion
  • sexual orientation
  • age
  • disabilities

Discrimination laws do vary according to locality, and in some cases even profession. But we will consider some general hiring and interviewing guidelines that will help us to avoid even the appearance of discrimination.

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Avoid Personal Questions

The job interview should focus primarily on the individual's ability to do the job. Any personal questions not directly related to the person's qualifications should be avoided.

For example, my parents are franchisees of a certain fast food sandwich chain. In the past I have helped them run it, and have even helped out with the hiring process. During the interview process, my dad always stressed that you never ask someone their age.

When you think of age discrimination we may think that it pertains primarily to not hiring someone because you feel that they are too old for the job. But it can go the other way as well. Of course certain professions have legal minimum age requirements and of course you want to observe child labor laws. Observing these legalities is not discrimination.

In Canada (where my parents businesses are located) the only legal requirement for that type of employment is that an individual has a Social Insurance Number (SIN). An individual can apply for their SIN when they are 12 years old. If you ask the applicant's age during the interview and you choose not to hire them, you can be giving the appearance of discrimination.

The same premise applies to asking questions about a person's religion or sexual orientation. These types of questions should be viewed as strictly off limits.

Be Transparent About The Reason For Not Hiring

There are employers that as a courtesy contact all applicants, even those they choose not to hire. There is nothing wrong with this practice. As an applicant I always appreciated when employers did this. But if you follow this practice you want to make sure that you avoid saying anything that can be mistaken for discrimination.

In order not to give the applicant the impression of discrimination, you may explain that the applicant didn't get the job because of lacking the necessary experience or qualifications. If they meet the qualifications but you only have a limited number of openings you may choose to say something to the effect: "We would like to thank you for your interest in our company. Unfortunately we only have a limited number of positions opened at this time. Even though we don't have any more openings at this time, we would like to keep your resume on file for future consideration."

Do Not Ask For an Applicant's Facebook Password

In the past few years it has become common practice for employers to check potential applicants Facebook page. Recently some employers have taken this one step further. Because it is possible for Facebook users to restrict public access of certain content, some employers have asked the applicants for their Facebook password. There have been reported instances of individuals not getting hired because of refusal to do so.

How does this practice involve discrimination? There is a degree of discrimination by refusing to hire someone because they choose to protect their personal privacy by not sharing their personal info. But the scope of discrimination goes beyond that. By accessing an applicant's Facebook account you may be accessing personal info such as sexual orientation or religion. This information can be a basis of discrimination (or perceived discrimination).

Over the last couple of years in the United States a number of States have passed or are in the process of passing laws concerning the asking for applicant’s Facebook password. But the legal battle is still ongoing.

Legality aside, asking for an applicant's Facebook password is a violation of personal privacy and is extremely unethical. To illustrate: Would you ask for your applicant's house key? Would you refuse to hire them if they choose not to give you the key?

Poll For Potential Job Applicant

If you were asked to give your Facebook password during a job interview would you do so?

See results

Discrimination Is Wrong!

| Source

Review of the 3 Ways To Avoid Discrimination When Hiring

  1. Avoid personal questions during the job interview
  2. Be transparent about the reasons for not hiring
  3. Do not ask for a job applicant's Facebook password

By putting these three tips into practice you will be avoiding discrimination during the hiring process.

Monty Python - Silly Job Interview (Video)

© 2014 Chris Baker

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