<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Is Your Business Unintentionally Discriminating against Potential Employees?</span>

You have a diverse workplace, and you make it a point to ensure you don’t discriminate against any of your loyal and valued employees. Not only does compliance matter in the workplace, but your hiring practices matter as well, whether you’re hiring in the US or Canada. However, your careers page, hiring practices, and interviewing practices might be unintentionally discriminating against potential employees. 


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Every time you place a job description online, interview candidates, or offer someone a position within your company, you need to ensure you’re fully compliant with all hiring and business regulations. Even though job candidates aren’t yet employees at your company, their rights still need to be protected. Unfortunately, “accidental discrimination” is often far less evident than blatant discrimination, which means it can be difficult to recognize in your hiring practices. However, it can still have the same negative consequences and legal liabilities. Here’s how you might be accidentally discriminating against potential job candidates.


An Inaccessible Careers Page

You upload your job description to your careers page and don’t give it another thought. What you might not realize is that your careers page itself might actually be inaccessible for people with disabilities. All job seekers, regardless of ability, should be able to access your content at this initial stage in the hiring process. If your careers page is inaccessible, you could be unintentionally reducing your candidate pool and limiting recruitment coverage.


Common mistakes here include:

  • - Not using inclusive design and web development principles to make your content available to people with visual or cognitive disabilities. For example, poor contrast color schemes can be difficult to read and a complex website can be difficult to navigate. Pop-ups, slideshows and animations can be disconcerting to candidates with ADHD or who are prone to seizures. 
  • - Not making transcripts and captions available for videos for candidates with hearing disabilities.
  • - Not making content available using a keyboard.


Ensuring your careers page is ADA compliant can help ensure it doesn’t discriminate against those with disabilities. 


Discriminatory Job Ads

Your job ads should attract the most qualified and diverse applicant pool possible. However, the wording or unnecessary requirements in the ad might cause unintentional discrimination against certain classes. 


Being specific about the duties the job requires and how often they must be performed can help ensure you’re choosing the most qualified candidate without being discriminatory. However, going overboard on unnecessary requirements can reduce the diversity of your candidate pool, such as requiring a bachelor’s degree when that level of education isn’t necessary. It could be discriminatory against certain protected classes by filtering out people who are less likely to get an education but are still fully qualified for the job. 


The wording you use also matters. For example you wouldn’t want to add that you’re looking for an “able-bodied” male weighing over 170 pounds in a physically demanding warehouse ad. Rather, you should word the requirement as “candidate must be able to repeatedly lift 50 boxes on/off truck.” Gender discrimination goes both ways, too. If you own a nail salon or beauty supply store, for example, it could be considered discriminatory to refuse to hire male candidates. Be careful of age discrimination, too, such as writing that you’re looking for a “young” or “millennial” candidate. 


Disparate Discrimination in Hiring Practices 

If you treat certain candidates differently due to their class, you could be unintentionally discriminating against them. Here are some examples:


  • - Requiring women who apply for a warehouse job to pass a lifting test
  • - Requiring foreign-born applicants to take an oral examination during the hiring stage
  • - Requiring applicants of a certain race to undergo drug testing or a criminal record check but not asking all applicants to do so


Behaving differently with different candidates can open your company to discrimination claims and lawsuits. 


Discriminatory Interview Practices

In an increasingly complex hiring environment, it can be difficult to ensure you fully understand all protections and how they may impact your hiring processes and decisions. When it comes to interviewing, accidentally discriminating against protected classes could be as simple as asking the wrong question during small talk. Asking where someone is from or whether they have children, for example, should be avoided.


To avoid these unintentional errors during the interview stage, it’s a good idea to write down a list of questions based on the job description and skills required ahead of time and ask the same interview questions to every candidate. Of course, you should also brush up on which questions are illegal to ask in an interview, such as asking questions related to marital status, race, color, ethnicity, gender, age, arrest record, pregnancy, or disability.


If you’re concerned about human resources compliance, reach out to the HR and compliance experts at The Payroll Edge