Under state and federal employment laws, employers are required to implement hiring policies that are fair and non-discriminatory. Basically, employers are prohibited from treating potential employees differently on account of their membership in a “protected class”, which includes age, sex, race, political affiliation, religion, and other characteristics.
Illegal hiring policies may include policies that:
- Are discriminatory in nature (for instance, only hiring men, or only hiring persons below a certain age)
- Are unnecessarily invasive in nature
- Involve a violation of a person’s privacy rights
- Discuss illegal actions or conduct as part of the employment
- Incorrect administration of pre-hiring drug testing
- Involve unreasonably restrictive non-compete clauses
Various other practices can be considered illegal, including hiring someone in exchange for sexual or romantic favors (which might actually be considered a form of sexual harassment).
Are There Any Legal Consequences For Illegal Hiring Policies?
The danger with hiring policies is that they usually tend to apply across the board for all applicants. Thus, if a hiring policy is illegal, there is a danger that many applicants or candidates might be affected. This can lead to legal consequences such as:
- Negative effects on the business, such as a civil fine or suspension of business license
- Civil lawsuits filed by affected applicants
- Class action lawsuits filed by several affected persons
- In case of intentional violations or white-collar crime, criminal consequences may result
- An injunction requiring the business to change its policies so that they conform to employment and hiring laws
A common example of illegal hiring policy is one that involves hiring illegal immigrants. In some states, these types of policies may result in loss of the business’ operating license. Another example is where the employer uses illegal interview questions when screening candidates (such as asking irrelevant questions about the person’s national origin).
For the affected applicants, legal remedies may include a damages award, or a reconsideration of their employment application.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Illegal Hiring Policies?
Legal issues with hiring policies can often be complex. They may require the assistance of a qualified employment attorney. Hiring a lawyer will allow you to obtain legal advice and guidance regarding your employment law issue. Also, your lawyer will be able to represent you during any formal court meetings or hearings.