It’s recommended to understand anti-discrimination laws in the United States before you set out about the business of hiring new employees for your business.
If you fall foul of these laws and a candidate for the job files a discrimination lawsuit, you and your company could be in for some extremely bad times ahead.
The compensation fees, including court fees, is only the tip of the iceberg.
There’s also the reputational damage to you and the business should such an incident be made public. Spoiler alert: it’s extremely difficult to keep this sort of thing under wraps, even if you want to. This isn’t great, and it could all be for a candidate who you might not have even wanted to work for you in the first place.
Now, there’s no need to run immigration ads and allow international candidates to compete for the job, but you certainly can’t discriminate against a certain type of U.S citizen applying for the job on the basis of their nationality.
Other characteristics protected by anti-discrimination laws include: color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disabilities, or genetic information.
Most of this is covered by the Civil Rights Act 1964, but there are other statutes in place. The others laws protecting job candidates from being discriminated against include: the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which protects employees over 40 from being treated differently to younger employees. There’s also the Equal Pay Act, which stops one gender from making more than the other for doing the same job. Then, there’s the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.
There’s a lot of laws to bear in mind.
Put simply, to keep themselves safe, a job interviewer shouldn’t ask a candidate to reveal any of these details about themselves. The law suggests that by asking about these details in a job interview, you could discriminate against a candidate based on their answer. You should focus only on their ability to do the job to the best of their ability.
The best way to avoid saying something that gets you into legal trouble is to prepare your job interview questions thoroughly and not be tempted to throw in any off-the-cuff questions, even if only to build rapport. There’s too much of a legal minefield awaiting you if you do this, particularly if you’re an inexperienced interviewer.
The laws transfer over to existing employees as well. If you are found guilty of overlooking an employee for a promotion because of the characteristics listed above, you could be in legal hot water. The same thing could happen if you’re judged to discipline a worker for any of these reasons.
You can’t bully a worker, or treat them any differently as a result of these characteristics, nor should you need to. The laws also suggest that you can’t harass or mistreat an employee for making an accusation of discrimination.