Bad Hiring Practices and the Ways They Lead to Lawsuits
09.19.2022 | Employment Law
Discrimatory Hiring Practices and the Ways They Lead to Lawsuits
Businesses often grow organically and expand over time, which can leave employers to suddenly deal with a larger workforce that’s filled with employees that may be inadequately trained or screened. In these situations, business owners may neglect to educate themselves about the best practices for hiring before they add employees. As a result, businesses might be needlessly exposed to lawsuits by potential job applicants and existing employees.
Here are three bad hiring practices that you should be aware of, along with an overview of the ways that these things can lead to lawsuits.
Creating a Pattern of Discriminatory Hiring
Once your business has fifteen or more employees, it is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under this law, an employer must not refuse to hire a job applicant on the grounds of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”
Race and Color
Race and color are generally treated in the same manner. Civil rights laws restrict employers from hiring or refusing to hire anyone based on the color of their skin, ancestry, physical characteristics, or culture.
Religion and Sex
Employers may not hire or refuse to hire anyone based on their religion or lack of religion. Title VII exempts religious organizations that hire people for specific religious roles.
Anti-discrimination rules also apply to sex, which includes both gender and sexual orientation.
National origin has become one of the strongest categories for discrimination rules. National origin discrimination includes discrimination against someone based on their:
- Country of origin (for example, discriminating against people from Ireland or Haiti)
- Language, including “English only” hiring policies unless communicating with customers is part of the job
- Nationality, including categories like Hispanic or Latino
To prove discrimination, a job applicant needs to show that:
- They were members of a protected class, as described above
- The employer was aware of the applicant’s membership in the protected class
- The applicant was not hired
- Others who had a similar level of qualification, but were not a member of a protected class were treated differently
If your business’ hiring practices show a pattern, they might violate the law, even if you did not have discriminatory intent. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigates violations of Title VII. If you are found to have discriminatory hiring practices, your business could face enforcement actions or lawsuits.
Failing to Screen Job Applicants
The actions of your employees can expose your business to liability. You might be insured against the liability associated with your employees’ negligence. But your business could also be exposed to lawsuits for the deliberate acts of your managers and employees if you failed to properly screen job applicants before hiring them.
This does not mean that your business has to conduct a full criminal background check on every employee, regardless of their job. But negligence law does require your business to take reasonably prudent measures to protect your employees and customers.
For example, a repairman has access to customer information and usually interacts with customers at their homes. An applicant who has a history of sexual assault or theft might pose a risk to your customers that could create liability for your business. Similarly, a truck driver who has a driving history of traffic accidents — even if no criminal laws were broken — could reasonably pose a risk for lawsuits against you and your insurer.
Failing to Train New Employees
Lawsuits against your business can also come from within. Businesses that neglect training can expose their other employees to safety risks and harassment.
Some examples of behavior that can be reduced through proper training include:
You should train new employees to follow your safety procedures and use all equipment in a safe and responsible manner. Even though workers’ compensation insurance covers on-the-job injuries, your insurer will set your premiums based on your claims.
Furthermore, if your business deliberately fails to provide safety training for new employees, your workers’ compensation insurer might decline to cover your claims and your employees may file lawsuits against your business.
Training your employees about harassment can help your business to minimize the risk of a lawsuit for sexual harassment or assault. Like safety training, your goal is to show that your business has taken reasonable measures to comply with your duties under the law. Failing to train your employees in the laws against harassment can expose your business to a lawsuit if harassment ever occurs.
Employment Law Compliance
Unlike many fields of law, employment law is meant to be proactive. By taking measures to prevent problems, your business can avoid lawsuits or build defenses that will reduce your risk of liability for any problems that arise.
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