Late discoveries won gender discrimination lawsuit

by on December 12, 2008 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

It’s never too late to check an applicant’s qualifications

If a rejected applicant sues you for gender discrimination in failure to hire, you may be able to strengthen your case by rechecking his or her qualifications.

That surprising conclusion emerged from a recent case in Alabama. A woman who wasn’t hired for a truck driver’s job sued for gender discrimination. The employer won by showing that she wasn’t qualified because of two recent speeding tickets.

She wasn’t qualified
The counterintuitive part is that the employer didn’t know about the tickets when it decided not to take her on. It found out afterwards, during the sex discrimination lawsuit.

The frustrated applicant said the employer couldn’t use material it discovered after the fact to prove she wasn’t qualified. But the court said the employer could.

What mattered was the existence of the speeding offenses, not the employer’s state of knowledge, the court said.

The supervisor who did the hiring testified that he would have rejected the applicant on the basis of her driving record if he had known about it. Indeed, the employer had never hired a truck driver who had a speeding ticket.

So suppose you consider, and reject, a candidate for sales manager, and in the process contact only her latest employer. Then the applicant comes back at you with a gender discrimination suit.

It might be worth your while to check another couple of references to see whether she really had the qualifications for the position. If not, you have additional fodder for your defense.

Cite: Underwood v. Perry County, No. 04-11713, 11th Cir., 7/21/05.

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