Federal employment laws prohibit discrimination against job applicants during the recruiting and hiring process. Employers, for example, may not use advertisements containing language that encourages persons of a particular gender, age bracket or racial background to apply.
As noted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, individuals who believe discrimination influenced the outcome of their application may file a bias suit for damages. In one such case, a legal action filed against a retail employer resulted in a $20 million settlement.
A required physical ability test may enable an applicant to file a legal action
Employers requiring job applicants to take a test as part of the hiring process must follow federal rules. A neutral exam related to the skills needed to perform the job’s tasks is acceptable. A job that requires using desktop publishing skills, for example, may test an applicant’s ability to create certain documents.
If an employer requires an ability test, however, it may not discriminate against an applicant based on age, gender or disability. An exam may test an applicant’s physical and mental ability to perform certain skills safely and efficiently, but may not disqualify an applicant because he or she cannot lift a heavy object.
Major retailer settles lawsuit alleging gender discrimination
Several female job applicants filed a nationwide legal action against a big-box retailer. The suit claimed the employer discriminated against them by requiring a physical ability test when applying for work at its grocery distribution centers. The exam portion of the hiring process allegedly impacted female applicants. As reported by Business Insurance, the company settled the lawsuit for $20 million and agreed to stop requiring the test.
Companies using pre-employment screening to filter out applicants based on gender may have violated the law. Applicants may file a discrimination claim for damages, which may include the lost wages they might have earned.