If a rejected applicant sues you for discriminatory failure to hire, you may be able to strengthen your case by rechecking his or her qualifications.
That surprising point emerged from a case in Alabama. A woman who wasn’t hired for a truck driver’s job sued for sex discrimination. The employer won by showing that she wasn’t qualified because of two recent speeding tickets.
She wasn’t qualified
The counterintuitive part: The employer didn’t know about the tickets when it decided not to take her on. It found out later, during the 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 disagreed. What mattered was the existence of the speeding offenses, not the employer’s state of knowledge, the court said. The hiring supervisor testified that he would have rejected the applicant on the basis of her driving record if he’d 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 discrimination suit. You might want to call another couple of references to check her qualifications. If they’re lacking, you have additional fodder for your defense.
Cite: Underwood v. Perry County, No. 04-11713, 11th Cir.
photo credit: wwworks
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