Re: Hiring Practices

Subject: Re: Hiring Practices
From: Dick Margulis <ampersandvirgule -at- WORLDNET -dot- ATT -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 13:37:35 -0400


I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on tv.

That said, there are millions of firms in this country, and most of them
never come to the attention of the Federal EEOC or the various state
EEOCs. The vast majority of companies, therefore, can go about their
business without meticulous attention to the details of the law.

The question companies need to consider, though, is whether they want to
take the risk.

Two things to consider:

1. I believe the EEOCs get involved when one or more individuals makes a
complaint. It would be an imaginative, underworked, and aggressive
bureaucrat indeed who went out to audit companies drawn at random from
the phone book.

Further, the personality of the individual investigator and the culture
of the local bureaucratic hierarchy is no doubt involved as well.
Consider the case that got so much national publicity a couple of years

It involved small lamp manufacturer in Chicago--maybe thirty or so
employees. The owner was Jewish. The plant was located in a neighborhood
that had become predominantly Hispanic. The employees were primarily
neighborhood residents, and openings were generally filled by passing
the word among friends and neighbors. If that didn't work, the owner put
a placard in the window.

As a result, although the Chicago metropolitan area has a significant
number of African American residents, this particular company had only a
few African American employees, a few white employees, and mostly
Hispanic employees.

I believe on the basis of a complaint from one African American woman
who did not know there was an opening at the company, the local EEOC
officer decided the company did not have the correct racial balance (and
implied in interviews that this was because of the racial animosity of
Jews toward African Americans) and ordered the company to advertise in
the Chicago papers--get this!--to invite any African Americans who might
have applied to the company in the past had they known of openings to
make themselves known so that they could be compensated with back wages
for jobs they had never applied for and might or might not be qualified
to do.

At some point in the story, after some millions of dollars in legal fees
and several levels of appeal, a more reasonable settlement arose. I
don't know whether the company survived.

2. In any normal population there are some individuals whose skills or
credentials are good enough to qualify for a job but whose personality
or behavioral traits are somewhere in the outer fringes of the bell
curve. Whether such a person is already working for you, applies for a
listed job, or hears after the fact about a job you did not advertise,
the poor persecuted soul may look to an external agency for assistance
in confronting big bad you.

Anyway, my lay take on the situation is that somewhere in the fine print
of the regulations is a requirement that jobs be advertised in such a
way that public awareness of the position is not skewed in terms of
race, religion, sex, national origin, or any other desiderata other than
qualification to do the job. The lesson, though, is that no matter how
inclusive you are in your heart and no matter how diverse your company's
workforce is, someone who is out to get you can cost you a truckload of
money if your jots aren't tittled.


PS: I have no idea whether I, personally, have ever been discriminated
against on any basis other than my abrasive personality, nor do I care.
Life is too short to worry about jobs I might have had working for

Tom Johnson wrote:
> Being ignorant, but curious, about hiring laws and how they affect those of
> us who may involved in hiring technical writers, I have a question. Dick
> Margulis said companies have had to pay fines for not advertising openings
> properly. What consitutes proper advertising? There are a lot of businesses
> where the only way to get in is to know somebody. It seems like a company
> should be free to choose how widely to advertise, if at all for prospective
> employees. Common sense seems like the more qualified applicants you want,
> the wider you should advertise. If I personally know a couple qualified
> people, why can't I just pick up the phone and ask them if they want to
> come to work? In that case, why should I advertise at all?
> Sorry if this seems a bit off-topic. If I belonged to a Human Resources
> listserv, I would ask them, but I think this is relevant to a lot of us on
> this list. Thank you in advance for your great advice.
> Tom Johnson
> business johnsont -at- starcutter -dot- com
> personal tjohnson -at- grandtraverse -dot- com
> Dick Margulis wrote:
> This is a practice that is becoming more and more common, and I think
> companies should take a close look at how they implement it. More than
> one company has had to pay enormous fines to the Federal Equal
> Employment Opportunity Commission, sign consent decrees, etc., because
> they did not advertise their openings properly.

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