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Top 10 Best Practices for Non-Discriminatory Hiring

“I would never discriminate. But the best candidate for the job is a 25-year-old Healthy Male White Anglo-Saxon Protestant - with a beautiful wife and 1.8 kids.” It has been said that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and such may be the case when an employer asks a job applicant about his wife or her family.

In fact, the well-intentioned employer may not even be aware that such questions could usher in a claim for discriminatory hiring practices. By implementing and consistently applying a few key and strategic Best Practices to ensure non-discriminatory hiring, you might just stave off 80% of all potential discrimination claims, get the deal done by hiring the best applicant, and improve your company’s performance by creating a diverse culture. Worth It!


  1. Understand Your Legal Obligations. The law forbids discrimination in every aspect of employment, including the hiring practice. Under federal law, it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant due to that person’s race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information (“Protected Class”). Keep in mind that state laws may implement additional protected classes. But most importantly, remember that even neutral employment policies and practices that have a disproportionately negative effect on applicants of a Protected Class may be discriminatory if the polices or practices at issue are not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business.
  2. Before You Call Your Recruiter, Create A Clear Job Description. A clear job description will help an employer avoid soliciting unnecessary and potentially discriminatory information from applicants.
  3. Make Sure Your Job Posting Is Not Discriminatory. Ensure the job posting is narrowly tailored to the job description so that the description does not unintentionally discourage certain protected classes from applying. For example, watch for unintentional discriminatory statements soliciting “recent college graduates” or “strong men,” which could discourage certain protected classes from applying. And, be sure to review any job application form to ensure no questions solicit protected class information.
  4. Cast A Wide Net For Advertising Purposes. Advertising in only one forum, like college campuses, opens an employer to age discrimination as it could result in the exclusion of age 40+ candidates. So be sure to advertise in a wide variety of sources: college campuses, trade magazines, general internet job sites, state-specific job forums, etc. Then, for any and all job opportunities, consistently post on the pre-selected but wide array of diverse forums.
  5. Establish An Initial Screening Process. Consider using a recruiter or multiple recruiters who have a demonstrated history of EEOC compliance to screen and select initial candidates. You could also consider implementing a first-step Blind CV Review to select candidates. Most importantly, implement an initial telephonic interview through a screener, utilizing a scripted and scored questionnaire, to progress those applicants who possess the threshold job requirements. 6. Use Structured Interviews. Conduct all interviews via a panel of at least two and preferably three persons. Utilize a scored Standard Questionnaire, narrowly tailored to the job description. Be sure to take objective notes and score all candidates, but then keep all notes. Before each interview, remind interviewers to not solicit questions concerning any protected class, including often well-intentioned questions concerning the applicant’s spouse, family, religious or political affiliations.
  6. Consider The Rooney Rule Or The Spirit Of The Rooney Rule. In other words, consider interviewing at least three applicants for every position, including applicants from a minority class. And, if you find the majority of your initial applicants are primarily homogenous, be sure to carefully scrutinize the language in the job description and posting and review the forums selected for advertising for diversity!
  7. [It Goes Without Saying But I Will Say It] Select The Best Applicant For The Job. Review the score cards from the initial screening process and interview process and simply hire the best qualified person for the job. Save your notes because if you have followed the Best Practices so far, your interview notes should be objective.
  8. Consistently Use The Process. Educate anyone and everyone involved in the hiring process about their non-discriminatory obligations. Review the Top 10 Best Practices For Non-Discriminatory Hiring before every individual or class job recruitment. Be consistent with your process and apply the standards for every job opening and applicant. So at the end of the day, the employer gets the deal done, hires the best applicant, and improves company culture. Don’t forget to celebrate your new hire!

10. Last, But Not Least, Confer With Legal Counsel. Consult legal counsel if you have questions about any part of the process or simply to review your steps along the way! To find out more about closing deals, employment law, or best practices, contact Goosmann Law Firm today and speak with one of our Sioux City, Sioux Falls, or Omaha attorneys!