Employment DiscriminationHere’s a good reason for why employers need to have and stick to a standard job application procedure: A woman in Ypsilanti,
Michigan posted on Facebook a textbook example of employment discrimination.

You can read the post in its entirety. But the short story is that she was at Big Boy when a black man asked if the restaurant was hiring. He was told no. However, when the white woman later asked if the restaurant was hiring she was told the exact opposite and given an application.

It doesn’t take an HR genius to know that, if true, this is the kind of event that gives rise to unlawful discrimination claims and a lot of bad press. And if this is news to your business, you need to get a hold of an employment attorney ASAP.

Federal and Michigan Anti-Discrimination Laws

This is because, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against applicants based on race, sex, color, religion or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)-(b). And as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination extends to pregnancy or childbirth (42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k).

Similarly, under Michigan law, an employer cannot “[f]ail or refuse to hire or recruit … an individual … because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, or marital status. MCL 37.2202.

Consistency is Needed to Limit Discrimination Charges 

Employers are permitted to reject unsolicited or walk-in applicants, provided this policy is uniformly applied and not used for discriminatory purposes. But the key phrase is “uniformly applied.”

Accepting this Facebook post at face-value, this is anything but uniform and under the circumstances would likely be the type of discrimination that can get an employer sued – and rightfully so. The bottom line is that employers must ensure that they comply with federal, state and local nondiscrimination laws and do not use discriminatory criteria during recruitment.

It is, therefore, important for a business to have in place and follow non-discriminatory employment selection strategies. These strategies, if applied consistently to any applicant provide a line of defense against negligent hiring, discrimination and other claims.

For more information about complying with federal and Michigan employment laws, including improving your current policies and procedures, contact employment attorney Jason Shinn. Since 2001, Jason has collaborated with employers to implement best practices in all phases of the employment cycle.