March 12, 2013

So, Let’s Go Back To Your Attorney Telling You To Write The Check

By Paul Bieber

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a lawsuit where you were served for discriminatory practices in hiring. You answered twenty pages of questions from your attorney, and he told you that you20  were going to lose in court.  He negotiated the settlement to $16,000 and following his strong recommendation, you wrote the check.  Why?  How?  Huh?

Let’s get the facts.  Mr. Johnson applied to work as a glazier at your shop.  He mentioned he worked for a union-affiliated shop and then thought you discriminated against him because of this when he wasn’t hired.  Okay … how did this happen, and more importantly, what can you do to prevent this from happening again?

This happened, because in America, anyone can sue you for any reason.  There are professional bad-guys who do just this…a pretend slip and fall, a perceived discrimination, a faked auto accident or a phony piece of metal placed in a hamburger.  You can’t stop some of these, but you really can stop the perceived discrimination-in-hiring suit, which by a good coincidence, is what this blog is about.

First of all, don’t discriminate. Easy.  Hire the best person for the job-at-hand.  Don’t discriminate based on:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Genetic Information
  • National Origin
  • Pregnancy
  • Race/Color
  • Religion
  • Sexual Preference
  • Union Affiliation

Okay, you won’t discriminate.  Still, how do you stop the frivilous law suit.

Make hand-written notes on each resume and job application you receive as to what you see are the strengths or weaknesses of this candidate.  So, that when the suit appears, you have a good memory jogger of why you didn’t hire the applicant.  Next, keep every job application you receive for at least one year.  Not only is this required by law, but it is good business practice to boot. 

If someone comes in for an interview and stresses a point about himself that would be discriminatory (if you asked the question, which you are not going to!) make a note on the resume that he mentioned this topic, but you didn’t respond or follow-up on the point.   If someone comes into your interview and says, “I’ll do ANYthing to get this job”, don’t give this person the job.  Make a note and help him or her out the door.  This is a sexual harassment suit during a job interview just waiting to knock on your door.

Treat everyone equally in the interview.  No assumptions.  If you have a 50 pound lifting requirement, have each person lift a box with 50 pounds in it.  If the guy is a former heavyweight wrestler, have him lift the box, along with the skinny kid who comes in for an interview.  If you assume the skinny kid can’t do the work, and don’t have him lift the box, and he doesn’t get the job, you have discriminated against him, and here comes the lawyers.

Most job interviews are usually with just two people, you and the applicant.  And you can’t run your business out of fear and have a third person with you anytime you interview.  So it comes down to your version of what happened and the applicant’s.  If you have good records of your interviews and have no other complaints against you, you stand a good chance of winning a case, especially where you have done nothing wrong.  But all it takes is losing one case, and the vultures will come swarming. 

The bottom line, don’t discriminate in the first place, keep good notes and records, root for the Mets, and you will be okay.