Archives For EOE Compliance

This article is a guest post by Melonie Boone at Boone Management Group. Melonie has a passion for business and education. She currently holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management from Loyola University of Chicago, a Master of Business Administration in Management from Florida Metropolitan University as well as a Master of Jurisprudence in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Loyola University Law School.  Her comprehensive experience in optimizing strategic planning initiatives to achieve organizational goals allows her to work as a trusted adviser to entrepreneurs, business owners and senior management teams. Melonie has the ability to create, implement and execute strategic plans for every area of our clients business.


So you have the perfect candidate and you want to check them out online. Most of us almost instinctively conduct a Google search or check out their Tweets, Facebook or other social media outlets trying to get the inside scoop on a candidate. What we don’t realize is the risks associated with taking adverse action based on what we find. Social media sites can give you protected information like age, ethnicity and race. It can also include political affiliation, religious beliefs, disability and other personal information that if used in a hiring decision can be seen a discriminatory.

Before you make a decision to deny a person’s employment based on something you find on the web, please refer these following steps and read the article at the links below.

Tips to minimize your risk:

Ask some basic questions:

1. Why do you want to use social media?
2. What is the utility of doing the search?
3. What information are you hoping to find?
4. Is candidate use of social media a plus or a minus?
5. Is it critical to the position? (For some jobs, you may need someone thoroughly familiar with online sites and procedures; for others, there is no need.)

When Should You Search?

Do your search after the interview but before the offer, or make the offer contingent on passing the check? Before the search, get prior consent from the applicant.

Who Should Search?

“For sure,” says Meyer, a partner with Dilworth Paxson LLP in Philadelphia, “don’t let the person making the hiring decision do the online check.” Consider using:
• A third party
• A member of the HR department
• Another non-decision-maker

How Should You Search?

“The ad hoc approach is stupid,” says Meyer. Be organized about your search:

  • Have a policy.
  • Train people on your policy. (“Hiring managers, resist the temptation to go to Google.”)
  • Develop a checklist. Write out a list of what you want to know, says Meyer.

For example:

• Expressions of hate
• Drug use
• Sexual content
• Disparaging comments about work
• Mean things about customers
• Volume of online activity (updating status every 10 minutes, tweeting every 15)
• Good judgment
• Good writing

The checkers go down the checklist and only the checklist. They don’t report on protected characteristics.

Document your procedure so that you can show consistency in your checking activities.

It only takes a second to make a costly mistake. If you choose to use social media as a source for screening a candidate remember Meyer’s tips, use sound judgment and measure the entire interview process before making an adverse decision based off of what you find on the web.

The City of Chicago recently emailed me a Business Newsletter. Hidden among the articles announcing a chamber of commerce survey, community based business expos, and construction on a heavily used bridge in downtown Chicago, there was an article about hiring policies that caught my eye. The big red headline shouted: “Make Sure Policies Apply Equally to Applicants, Employees.”

Since applicants and employees are not the same, how can policies be applied equally to those two groups?

The Chicago Human Rights Ordinance prohibits discrimination against employees and job applicants based on their type of family membership. Do you know if your municipally has a similar ordinance?

Here are a few examples of discriminatory conduct that were provided:

  • A policy or practice which limits job opportunity because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions
  • Refusing to hire because the applicant lives with dependent minor or disabled children.
  • Giving preference to married candidates for  jobs or promotions over those who are unmarried.

Regarding the pre-employment process (recruiting), “A prospective employer may not ask a job candidate for information which directly or indirectly expresses intent to discriminate based on pregnancy, parental status, or marital status.”

Be on the safe side and avoid all questions about a candidate’s current family status or future plans! Don’t ask about the health or babysitting arrangements for dependent children, especially during a job interview.

The law requires equal treatment under similar circumstances, regardless of one’s pregnancy, parental status, or marital status.

Another way to protect yourself from violating these laws is to use a reproducible recruiting process. That means that you use the same steps and use objective hiring criteria for each job you hire for. Your recruiting process should include a job application that asks every single candidate to respond to the same set of questions. Additionally, when screening candidates, be sure that the hiring criteria is based on the key accountabilities of the position and not by a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s arbitrary decision making. Check out these documents for more interviewing tips:

Interviewing guidelines

Interviewing Tips

Do you have tips or guidelines on interviewing best practices that you’d like to share?

Want to Hire a Veteran?

Devan Perine —  April 16, 2013 — 1 Comment


This article was written by Max Smith and Devan Perine and was originally published in a past NewHire newsletter.

Who wouldn’t want to hire a veteran? Disciplined, team oriented, loyal, well trained, and patriotic all come to mind when considering a veteran. But be aware that there are specific and complex laws relating to preferential (or discriminatory) hiring of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. It gets pretty complicated, so we’ve tried to summarize it in the clearest way possible.1

It’s illegal to discriminate AGAINST veterans when hiring.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)2 prohibits discrimination against veterans, just as the Civil Rights act prohibits discrimination against minorities.

It’s also illegal (in most states) to give veterans preferential treatment.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that preferential hiring of veterans discriminates against women. Companies have actually been sued for breaking this law. However there are some exceptions – Washington & Oregon are the only states we found that completely allow all private sector companies to preferentially hire vets.3

The exception to the rule:

The EEOC does allow private companies to preferentially hire disabled veterans. You can ask about disabled veteran status on pre-employment applications, but here’s the catch:

  1. You have to make the question voluntary
  2. You must include language specifying that the information is being requested for affirmative action purposes
  3. Refusal to answer must not negatively affect the applicant in any way

Does your company work with the government?

If your company works with any level of government, you need to read this carefully:

  • Preferential hiring of veterans is required for any company with a federal contract of over $100,000.4
  • State requirements vary, but almost every state requires some sort of preferential veteran hiring for any company doing business with the state.

The federal government and many state governments also require EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) reporting about veterans, but regulations vary depending on company size and by state. Check with the EEOC to make sure your company is in line with the laws. Here are our recommendations:

  • If your company has government contracts AND reports EEO data, you need to ask about veteran status of job applicants. You can include a question about veteran status on your pre-employment application or later in the hiring process.
  • Firms who do not work with the government may want to ask about veteran status, but should do so in a “blind” manner to protect themselves from violating EEOC regulation.
  • All employers may ask if candidates are disabled veterans as long as they abide by the rules5

Basically – play it safe, and contact the EEOC or your labor attorney to make sure your company is in line with laws and regulations when it comes to hiring veterans.

1 Check with EEOC regulations before pursuing. This is not official data.
3 Before hiring, double check with the EEOC to verify your state‘s regulations
5See section on: You can preferentially hire disable veterans
6Picture provided by NYC Marines :

In the age of employment-related lawsuits, there are just some interview questions you can’t ask. They are off-limits. Any question you ask that could discriminate against age, gender, religion, etc. are strictly forbidden by EEO regulations, and could get you into an awful lot of legal trouble, lawsuits and bad PR. We’ve compiled a list of some of the worst interview questions to ask candidates and ones to avoid. Here they are!



1. Are you a U.S. Citizen?

This may seem like the best question to determine a candidate’s ability to legally work for your company, however it’s off-limits. Ask instead if your candidate is authorized to work in the U.S.

2. How long have you lived here?

Residency is another touchy subject, and length of residency may have nothing to do with the job. Instead, you can ask about their current residence information.


3. How old are you?

This question can lead to discrimination trouble down the line. Instead, ask if they meet minimum age requirements. The number of age discrimination cases is up since 2009.[1]

4. How long before you plan to retire?

Again, this is another question that can lead to discrimination issues, especially in older candidates – the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age.[2] Instead, you can ask about long term career goals.


5. What religion do you practice?

Religion can be a very touchy subject, as everyone has both opinions and stereotypes about it – stay away from it! However, if you’re asking as it pertains to religious holidays or scheduling, simply ask a scheduling-related question.

6. What social clubs do you belong to?

This question can inadvertently lead to discrimination as such clubs may include political or religious groups, and mostly these groups will have little to do with the job at hand.  However, you can ask about professional organizations the candidate belongs to as it pertains to their resume and experience, as long as it is relevant to the job.


7. We’ve always had a man/woman do this job.  Do you think you can do it?

This just has bad news written all over it! Avoid all questions that pertain to gender to avoid any chance of getting caught up in an EEO violation. Instead ask your candidate what he/she can offer the company.

8. How do you feel about supervising men/women?

This question may seem straightforward, but can get you into trouble for making assumptions. Instead, ask about their managing experience directly, and always avoid gender-related questions.

Marital/Family Status

9. Do you have kids?

This question gets you into trouble for making assumptions on family dynamics. Leave the family out of it entirely and instead ask about their availability to work off-hours and overtime directly.

10. Would you come back to work after maternity leave?

This question is primarily asked of women, but can be applied to either would-be parent now with the Family Leave act.  It’s still not a good idea though, as it highlights portions of your candidate’s life that do not directly affect their ability to do the job. Instead, ask about their career goals.

To put it short…

Never ask a candidate a question that does not have to do directly with the position you are hiring for. If it’s not relevant to their work experience or professional ability to do the job, don’t ask it!

This is just a short list of questions not to ask in an interview. Find out what interview questions you should ask here!


I’ve been reading a lot lately about the importance of Checklists. I was asked recently if I had a Checklist for Hiring. I do and here it is:

10 critical things to know before you make an offer.

Ask yourself, Is the person…

1. The “Best Available Talent
2. Legally eligible (has to provide proof!)
3. Reference and background checked
4. Able to work in the place(s) and for the time required
5. Pleased to accept the compensation offered
6. Able to do the work…
a demonstrated capacity (not experience) to do the job
7. Able to learn and adapt
8. Time Horizon minimally acceptable (likely to do the job for x years)
9. Going to get along with others in your environment
(NOT a recommendation for a homogenous environment)
10. Someone you are looking forward to seeing everyday

Love to hear what you think. Did I miss any? Do you disagree with any?

Check out yesterday’s NY Times article on hospitals refusing to hire smokers.

Do you think that companies should be allowed to not hire smokers? Answer this one-question survey: Click here to take survey

I’ll publish the result next week.

How many times have you skipped over a particular candidate for a job because you believe them to be “geographically undesirable (GUD)?”

Many hiring managers reject out-of-hand candidates that would have to relocate or live “too far” from the job. I understand this. When one is winnowing a pile of resumes it seems logical to look for people close by. But, is this a good idea?

If the goal is to find the best person for the job, then eliminating candidates by distance can be a mistake.

I was recently in a meeting with half a dozen business owners when one colleague started raving about the great new hire she had just made. Her new employee is intelligent, enthusiastic, talented and motivated, and off to a great start in the company. Diane saw this young woman shine during a group interview but was put off when she found out that the candidate lived in Philadelphia and the job was in Chicago.

Diane’s company was not paying to relocate and an entry level employee.

Nevertheless, the candidate shone so far above the others that Diane decided to have a conversation her. The candidate told Diane how much she wanted the job. She was willing to move to Chicago right away at her own expense and would be able to start in the time frame the company required – 2 weeks.

Much to Diane’s surprise all of this happened just as the candidate said it would.

Don’t assume you know what a candidate’s story is before you talk with them. If a person looks like a good fit, have a conversation. The worst that can happen is you get to “No.”

Over the course of 23+ years in recruiting, I can give you 100s of similar examples in which the simple act of find out more information from a candidate led to a great hire.

Thanks to Karla Dobbeck of HR of Human Resource Techniques, Inc. for allowing us to reprint this content from her monthly newsletter. It’s great stuff that many employers don’t know:

Your newly hired employees deserve the best chance for success at your company. You can help each become a valued member of your team by planning a well thought out New Employee Orientation.

The EEOC and OSHA require that employees receive specific training before entering the workplace and if you are ISO, QS or TS certified, additional competency work is also required.

Start your employees out right by ensuring they have the tools they need to be successful. Before sending unsuspecting new hires into your facility, make certain they understand:

– Their job – provide a copy of the job description. Unless your employees know what is expected of them, they will have a hard time meeting expectations.

– Administrative Procedures for calling in, payroll, timekeeping and requesting time off, etc. Your employees will feel at home when they know how things are done at your company.

– Benefits, eligibility requirements and how to access, etc. Now might be a good time to get enrollment forms into their hands as well.
Safety. Include emergency measures, where to find MSDS and how to read them, what PPEs are required and their responsibilities under Lockout Tagout

– Important company policies – those hot button issues for you. Attendance, work rules, cell phone use to name a few. Don’t forget Harassment & Discrimination reporting and your commitment for zero tolerance.

– How to get additional information and who to see with questions, concerns or issues. Who should the employee contact for an equipment failure, bad parts, missing tools, etc.

– Company information – your history, industries you serve, mission statement and quality statement.

Take some pro-active steps to get employees started on the right foot. Remember, this is your best chance to make sure the information a new employee receives is consistent and sends the message you want to send. When employees feel welcomed and part of the family, their decision to join your company is validated.

According to this morning’s Chicago Tribune 18 states and the U. S. House of Represetatives are considering bills that would restrict the use of credit checks in pre-employment screening.

This is an important topic and we’ve addressed this topic several times. Here’s what we think:

1. Only use credit checks of prospective employees if in their job function will involve access to your money.

  • If you are hiring a sales rep who will travel, get a company car, an expense account, a company credit card or the like, by all means check to see how they handle their credit.
  • If you are hiring a graphic designer, or a customer service rep with no access to company financial instruments, then you have no good reason to check credit.

2. If you are going to do background checks, obtain written permission from the prospect, but go one step further.

  • Ask the prospect before you do the check if there’s is anything that you are going to find that the prospect would like to discuss in advance. Think of this as an integrity check.
  • Balance the information revealed with the nature of the issue. Think about how you would like to be treated and treat the prospect with the same respect and thoughtfulness.

3. Reveal negative information reported by credit check (or any other kind of check) to the prospect.

  • Many states require that you do this, especially if the result affects your decision to hire or not. Get an employment attorney to review your options and recommend a course of action before you take action with the prospect.


Recent question from a client that I thought might be of general interest: Do you have a format that you typically use for reference checking? What do you typically look for and what is the role of the reference checking in your view? What should not be expected of reference checking?

There are various perspectives on the value of reference checking. Brad Smart, of Topgrading fame, thinks it’s the most important part of the recruiting process. For his perspective you can get “The Smart Interviewer” at Amazon for about $20. Perhaps the most useful tidbit Smart provides is the concept of “TORC” or “Threat Of Reference Check.” Smart argues persuasively that informing candidates at the beginning of the interview that the interviewer will be checking the candidates’ answers with references ensures more truthful responses.

I think it’s important and necessary to check references but not particularly helpful. Mostly we use them in a negative context. We assume that just about any one can find 2 people to say something really nice about them. If references seem hesitant or unsure we may take this as a negative sign. We had a recent case where a client, doing their own reference checks, reported a false reference right at the end of the recruiting process. He checked 4 references for a sales job. Having a hard time reaching the 4th person he asked the candidate for help. The candidate immediately made available her boyfriend using a false name. Needless to say, the candidate didn’t get the job.

So, as a process, I think it’s helpful. You must keep expectations relatively low and you must listen to glowing references with a skeptical ear. If you have a particular concern about a candidate’s suitability for a position it is helpful to question references specifically about that concern in as much detail as possible.

If you do check references make sure you stick to a script that helps you avoided questions that could lead to negligent hiring claims, such as age, race, gender, and disability issues. Almost more than candidates themselves, references may be sensitive to these issues and report back to the candidate.

Here’s a link to the Reference Check Template that we use a NewHire. Feel free to make use of it. And don’t hesitate to ask me for help, if you need it.