Illegal Employment Practices for Job Posts, Applications, and Hiring

A talented attorney possessing more than 15 years of legal experience, Synthia Shilling has worked with large school systems and legal firms in Maryland throughout her career. Synthia Shilling most recently served as a contract attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, handling various issues involving EEO law.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and prohibit discrimination against applicants or employees based on race, religion, disability, age, sex, or national origin. They apply to all areas of employment, starting with job advertisements. Publishing a job ad that either discourages someone from applying, or shows a preference for a specific individual based on any discrimination areas, is illegal. Ads that seek females only or recent college graduates may deter older applicants or men from applying, and as a result may violate the law. Additionally, recruiting individuals in a way that is systematically exclusive of certain groups–such as word-of-mouth recruitment among a predominantly Hispanic population resulting in a mostly Hispanic work force–is also illegal.

Any tests required during the application and hiring process must include all individuals and be related to the job. For example, tests that exclude applicants or employees over the age of 40 are illegal, as are any tests that exclude individuals of a particular race. Another prohibited practice related to applications and hiring is refusing to give an interested individual an application, or making assumptions about an individual’s abilities, based on discriminatory bias or stereotypes.


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