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Interviewing and Hiring Discrimination Laws to Be Aware Of

Harassment & Discrimination

Ethical Practices

Interviewing and Hiring Discrimination Laws to Be Aware Of

Finding the right candidates for a position in your organization can be an exciting process, but it’s important to remember that you are legally obligated to find the right people without discrimination. Abstaining from discrimination in the hiring process and staying in compliance with human rights laws is paramount for building a strong organization and avoiding potential fines or legal ramifications. Let’s review the important laws to avoid discrimination when navigating your next interviewing and hiring process.

Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 is a federal law that prohibits employers from paying different wages to employees of the opposite sex who perform equal work in the same establishment. It also prohibits employers from paying different wages to employees of the opposite sex who perform substantially equal work under similar working conditions, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.

Employers must also show that wage differences are based on seniority or merit rather than gender; however there are exceptions for differential rates of pay made pursuant to: (1) a seniority system; (2) a merit system; (3) systems which measure earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (4) any other factor other than sex.

The Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, with Title VII specifically addressing employment discrimination. This act, which was pushed forward by civil rights protests like the 1963 March on Washington, also prohibits discriminatory practices in hiring, firing, and promotion. The law protects employees from being retaliated against for opposing discriminatory practices, and Title VII applies to most employers in the country (must have 15 or more employees within a 75-mile radius).

The Civil Rights Act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which still works today to administer and enforce workplace civil rights laws. Over the years, there have also been amendments to the Civil Rights Act and Title VII, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 which further empowered the EEOC to take enforcement action against any employer or individual who may be in violation of the original 1964 provisions. Additionally, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 modified and expanded the rights of those who file employment discrimination cases, including the rights of women to sue and collect damages for sexual harassment or discrimination.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Another major amendment to Title VII was the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978, which is applicable to both current employees and job applicants. This amendment prohibits discrimination on the basis of current, past, or potential pregnancy, related medical conditions including breastfeeding/lactation, having or choosing not to have an abortion, and birth control.

Even though the PDA is meant to protect individuals in the workplace who are pregnant or become pregnant, there are still many cases of discrimination. For example, federal law requires workplaces to provide reasonable break time and a private location (other than a bathroom) for employees to pump breast milk for up to one year — but many nursing parents still do not feel supported in this endeavor.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 years of age or older. It also forbids mandatory retirement provisions that would have prohibited workers from continuing to work after a specified age. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual on the basis of age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment.

The ADEA protects applicants as well as current employees from discrimination based on age. In addition, applicable employers (must have at least 15-20 employees) cannot take an applicant's age into account when making hiring decisions such as promotions and raises either because they feel that younger people are more energetic than their older counterparts; likewise, employers cannot opt to not offer other forms of benefits such as health insurance coverage or retirement matching depending on a person’s age.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits employers from discriminating against an employee or job applicant on the basis of disability. The ADA also protects current employees from discrimination based on an actual or perceived disability, regardless of whether they are performing their job satisfactorily.

The ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees and employment agencies and labor organizations that have at least 25 members. It also applies to state and local governments as well as other public entities such as public schools, hospitals and nursing homes, transportation providers such as city buses and taxi services, private companies that provide public transportation, or emergency medical service like ambulances

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, or GINA, is a 2008 federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment and health insurance. It prohibits employers from requesting or requiring genetic information from current or potential employees; however, it does not prohibit the employer from obtaining this information if it is voluntarily provided by an employee. GINA also states that no one may be discriminated against on the basis of their family history in connection with any aspect of employment including hiring practices and compensation decisions.

Learn More Interviewing and Hiring Best Practices

While the employment laws are important to follow and remember, practicing honest and fair interviewing and hiring is about more than just staying in legal compliance. EasyLlama’s Interview and Hiring training can help learners involved in the recruiting process better understand the benefits of hiring based on skills, experience, and qualifications, identify protected characteristics for potential new hires, and discuss ways to actively avoid discrimination.

Our interactive suite of Diversity and Inclusion training courses is also a great step to preventing workplace discrimination in the hiring process and beyond. Begin your free course preview today to learn more about providing your employees and potential hires with a safe, inclusive, and equitable work environment.

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