Small business owners must deal with many issues in addition to making financial ends meet: taxes, local and state regulations and licenses, advertising and future growth to name just a few. That last issue-future growth is what most small business owners work toward. If you are fortunate enough to be hiring new employees, then you will want to make sure that you avoid any potential legal trouble. Our Denver small business lawyers will help you follow any federal and state laws that apply to new employee hires.
Improving the Hiring Process by Avoiding Liability
One way to avoid most legal liability related to the hiring process is to maintain a clear focus on job skills, qualifications and expectations for the position. This places the emphasis on where it should be-filling the job.
If your hiring decisions are based on job-related criteria, then you will likely avoid the most common legal pitfalls. Decide what qualifications are required for the job, put those qualifications in a written job description and focus your hiring efforts on addressing these qualifications as objectively as possible.
Preventing Discrimination in the Hiring Process
State and federal laws prohibit certain types of discrimination in the hiring process. For example, some states have passed laws protecting applicants from discrimination due to sexual orientation, marital status and arrest or conviction records. Since these laws vary from state to state, you should talk to our business law firm in Denver to learn more about Colorado discrimination law.
In order to avoid any claims of discrimination or illegal hiring practices, you should make the hiring process as objective as possible. Do not stereotype applications and applicants in any way. Instead, focus on what the job requires and the qualifications of each particular applicant.
Writing a Job Advertisement
When writing a job advertisement, do not state or imply that the job is for a particular gender. You should also refrain from engaging in age discrimination by casting your net as wide as possible. Make sure that your ads will be seen by a wide segment of the population. Our Denver small business attorneys can help you achieve this goal by reviewing your job advertisement for any potential legal problems.
Creating a Checklist for Job Interviews
You should go into interviews with a series of questions focusing on the specific requirements of the job. Make it your goal to ask every applicant the same set of questions.
It is also important that you avoid any questions that suggest stereotyping:
- Do you plan to get married?
- Do you plan to have children?
- Is there a chance your husband will be transferred?
Questions like these are not job specific. For example, if you want some assurance that an employee will be with you for at least a few years, then you should simply ask, “Is there any reason why you would not be available to work late at certain times?”
Similarly, you should only ask what you need to know. If the job does not require you to ask certain questions, then do not ask them. Do you need to know the applicant’s marital status? Number of children? Religion? Age? Financial status? If not, then do not ask the question.
After drafting your interview questions, it is important to recognize that you still may not be able to make every demand of each applicant that you want to make. For example, the law does not regulate requests for employment references. However, if you pry into private information or use unreasonable means to gather data, then you may open yourself to tort liability for invasion of privacy. You will generally be safe, if you limit your background or reference checks to issues relating to the performance of the job in question.
Finally, the law does limit the types of tests you can use to screen out unqualified applicants. To be on the safe side, any test you administer should measure an applicant’s ability to perform the specific job. Tests that are not job-related and that screen out disproportionate numbers of minorities or women could violate anti-discrimination laws.
How the Americans With Disabilities Act Impacts the Hiring Process
The Americans with Disabilities Act forbids requiring medical tests of applicants unless you have offered to hire the person, and you require all employees who hold the job in question to take the same test. Any information obtained as a result of the test must be kept confidential in a file separate from the applicant’s personal file. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against the applicant due to any disability disclosed by the test. Our Denver small business attorneys can help ensure that your business is in compliance with the guidelines found in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What Are Common Examples of Employment Discrimination in Colorado?
Common examples of employment discrimination in Colorado include:
- Refusing to hire an applicant due to her pregnancy.
- Refusing to provide an accommodation to an applicant with a disability if that accommodation would help him or her perform the job.
- Refusing to hire a Latino worker due to his or her accent.
- Forcing an employee to retire when he or she reaches the age of 65.
- Refusing to hire an applicant due to a genetic test revealing that he or she has the potential to develop cancer.
Contact Our Denver Business Law Firm
Hiring employees should be an exciting and optimistic time in your business development. For small business owners, you should take every necessary precaution to protect your business. The last thing you want is an unintended (and possibly costly) lawsuit. Contact the Denver small business lawyers at Wiegand Attorneys & Counselors, LLC (303) 625-6280 for a free initial consultation. You can also contact us online and tell us more about your particular business situation.