The recruiting and hiring process is the gateway to your company. It says a lot about your culture and your awareness of the federal and state rules and regulations that you must abide by. Nobody wants to work for a company who consistently runs afoul of the law. Certainly, nobody wants to experience discrimination before a job has even been offered.

Big Numbers

Unfortunately, too many small businesses continue to make mistakes in their recruiting and hiring procedures, including the implementation of background checks. An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report shows that nearly 100,000 discrimination charges were filed annually from 2010 to 2012. Not all of these claims made it or will make it to court, but attorney fees for claims that are eventually dismissed or settled can run into the thousands of dollars.

This line from a Worcester Business Journal article sums it up well: “Worst of all for defendants in employment discrimination lawsuits, they ultimately realize that the whole mess was preventable.”

Knowing how to stay on the right side of anti-discrimination laws will save your image and your bottom line.

Discrimination 101

Discriminatory language of any kind is against the law, as are other discriminatory acts that may be committed against anyone in a protected status. You are protected from discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Gender
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Citizenship
  • Pregnancy
  • Age

Some states offer additional protection for:

  • Sexual Orientation
  • Weight
  • Marital Status

How Can You Prevent Discriminatory Behavior?

Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track (thanks to and for the tips):

One: Know your hiring practices. Never place any preference relating to age, sex, race, etc. in a job advertisement. Recruitment should be done in a comprehensive manner to reach a large and diverse audience. Perform background checks that are compliant with the law. The best way to do this is to work with a Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) like Active Screening that has been nationally-accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS). An accredited CRA like Active Screening has a team of experts who have complete understanding of federal discrimination laws and who can examine your hiring procedures to make sure they are compliant with the law. Click here for a list of our services and solutions.

Two: Create or review a policy manual that clearly defines discrimination, discriminatory language, harassment and any state and federal laws that your employees need to know about. If you’ve taken actions as a business to implement more protections, outline them in the manual. You might also want to find a way to make sure your employees have actually read the manual (a quiz, a team building exercise, something). Sometimes, this can be built into your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, like the ACTivate Platform that Active Screening offers. If you use a test of some sort though, be sure it relates to the position and is fair to all applicants who must take it.

Three: Think twice before creating silly ‘rules.’ Have a set standard for terms and conditions of employment. Breaks, time off and work assignments should be given fairly. Have a set dress code. This should be enforced equally as well. Again, make sure every employee has read these rules, has a personal copy of them (either on paper or digitally), and that the rules are posted in your workplace.

Four: Implement anti-discrimination training for anyone in management or anyone who is deemed a ‘decision-maker.’ Ideally, this training should be done in-house and completed before any promotions take root. Pay close attention to hiring and promoting practices. Make sure your Human Resources pros know that assignments and promotions are given based on skill and job performance; rather than personal preference. Implement a performance review of your HR team to make sure the hiring guidelines you’ve set forth are routinely being met and enforced.

What are some of your anti-discrimination hiring tips? Tell us here!

To learn more about how background checks can help you eliminate discrimination in your pre-employment hiring procedures, give one of our expert team members a call today at 1-800-319-5580. Or shoot us an email here!

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