Know the laws
Numerous federal and state laws govern the various processes of soliciting employees, including advertising, interviewing and hiring. If you don’t follow the rules, you may find yourself as the defendant in a lawsuit over your hiring (or non-hiring) practices. Or, you may end up being stuck with a very costly and unproductive employee who you have trouble firing.
Employers are subject to many laws requiring equal employment opportunity and prohibiting discrimination in employment, which can include:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964;
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act;
- Civil Rights Act of 1966;
- Immigration Reform and Control Act;
- American with Disabilities Act; and
- numerous other federal and state laws.
Don’t even Go there
You probably have many questions that you would like to ask a prospective employee. But certain questions can only get you in trouble (yes, you can trip over many laws in an interview). The following seven questions are examples of questions you should NOT ask:
No.1: How old are you?
No. 2: Do you have any disabilities?
No. 3: Are you pregnant?
No. 4: Are you married with kids?
No. 5: Have you ever been arrested?
No. 6: What is your religious affiliation?
No. 7: What is your sexual orientation?
Focus on questions relating to the skill and experience of the candidates and the qualifications needed to perform the job.
Do your homework
Once you find the “perfect” candidate for the job, you should perform a background and reference check before extending an offer. Ideally the prospective employee will sign your “background check permission form,” which allows you to get reference information from prior employers and even do a credit-check. Before formally requesting information in writing from a prior employer, make sure the prospective employee gives you permission to do so. However, you may find that previous employers are reluctant to give much information, often confirming only the employment, position and maybe salary. (And yes, your company should have a similar policy with respect to your departing employees.)
From a fact-checking perspective, think about checking out school experience (some people embellish their degrees or where they went to school); talk to the candidate’s former supervisor(s), if possible, who may provide more meaningful information than the company’s HR department; for sensitive jobs, check for felony convictions; and verify past employment (ensure the candidate actually worked at each of the companies listed, in the position listed, and check dates of employment).
Stacy is a founding member of BauerGriffith, a business law firm providing high quality legal and business counsel to a wide array of clients, with an emphasis on non-profit organizations, small business and individual planning clients. She serves as outsourced corporate counsel for diverse clients, partnering with executive management to design, plan and implement stated and defined business objectives within legal parameters.