The Hiring Process and Managing a Diverse Workforce

Assignment 2: The Hiring Process and Managing a Diverse Workforce

HRM 510: Business Employment Law

Assignment 2: The Hiring Process and Managing a Diverse Workforce

HR Director Managing a Diverse Workforce

As the HR Director of my organization, it is my responsibility to use a variety of employment laws to construct policies and methods that support the promotion of diversity in the workplace. My current organization is seeking an Executive Administrative Assistant who will work very closely with and report to the Chief Legal Officer. My company of course, encourages everyone who is interested in the position to apply as we are ultimately seeking to hire the best person for the position. As the HR Director, I have witnessed several incidents that ended with legal action because certain employment laws weren’t used when creating the organization’s recruitment methods and application process. It is my job to ensure that I not only protect the organization from legal repercussions, but I must also devise effective methods and plans that protect potential and existing employees. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans Disabilities Acts are only a few of the underlying laws that contribute to the employment laws that are required of employers to use during all stages of the hiring process.

Recruitment Methods

Clearly communicating the availability of employment opportunities to job seekers is essentially the first step in the recruitment process. It is extremely important that employment laws are kept in mind when developing recruitment methods for an organization. As the HR Director, I have decided that the best and most effective recruitment methods for my organization are 1) Social Media 2) Job Advertisements and 3) Employment/Recruitment Agencies.

Social media has taken over this generation and is connecting people in more ways than one. Many organizations are jumping on the social media bandwagon and have started their own Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. More professionally, there are social media networking sites specifically for jobseekers like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, and Glassdoor. These can be used as great recruiting tools because they aren’t that expensive and they can reach a great amount of people in a very short amount of time. In addition to publicizing employment opportunities, social media gives the organization another way to verify information provided by the applicant.

Another recruitment method my organization would utilize would be to place job advertisements, primarily in print, in places that our non-technological crowd would be able to easily access. For example, newspapers, billboards, radio commercials, bulletin board postings and flyers would be a great way to communicate employment opportunities to the public. As required by most discrimination laws, the wording of want ads and other types of job announcements must be neutral (Walsh, 2012). Neutral language in vacancy announcements doesn’t imply a preference for a certain group of people over another; rather it encourages equal employment opportunity amongst all applicants.

Another great way to recruit applicants would be to use an employment or recruiting agency. This method has plenty of advantages for both the applicant and the employer. For the applicant, it gives them the opportunity to present themselves and their skills so that they can be recommended or considered for a variety of jobs all at once. For the employer, it cost way less than most standard recruitment process and they are able to reach a larger audience. Many staffing agencies represent their client companies at job fairs in local communities, churches, colleges, and libraries. But in utilizing employment/recruiting agencies, the organization has to realize that they are still businesses and have to ensure that they are abiding all employment and discrimination laws when recruiting candidates.

The methods that I have proposed for recruitment will help my organization to avoid discrimination because they are easily accessible to everyone who is interested in applying for the positions and we will be more than happy to provide reasonable accommodation to applicants who need it. For example, applicants will have the option to submit an application online, in-person, by mail, fax, or email.

Outline of Application Process

During the application process, it is very important to avoid disparate treatment amongst applicants. As the HR Director, I have to make sure that a policy for the application process for my organization is established and adhered to by every employee at every level. The process for applying for the available position(s) should be the same for everyone. Firstly, there will be a single application that will be used for any and all employment opportunities within my organization. All applicants will be encouraged to either apply online or in-person and depending on the job description, skills, and qualifications required of the job, a resume may need to be submitted along with the application. Of course, there are several factors that determine when and how long an application remains open, but it will be in my organization’s policy that the opportunity remains open for at least ten (10) days. Under certain circumstances, some opportunities may be reposted and the application reopened to new candidates while those who previously applied are still on file.

While it is not unusual for most employers to wait until they are ready to extend an offer of employment to an individual to validate their credentials, I would do this before the interviewing process. This way, employers don’t have to worry about taking more time to pull additional applications once they have already made their decision on the candidates they want to interview.

I had a former supervisor of mine tell me a story where she had offered a person the job, they accepted, and when she went to validate their credentials, she found that the person was never even enrolled at the university they had listed on their resume nor did they possess a bachelor’s degree (which was one of the requirements of the position). She had to reopen the position, which pushed back her original hire date because she had to interview more candidates. This also prompted her to re-evaluate her application and interview processes.

Unlike my former supervisor, once I narrow down the list of applicants to the ones I want to interview, I would take the time to validate their credentials. If the position requires a degree, I would contact the school the applicant listed on their application and/or resume to verify their enrollment. I would also contact at least one of their professional references to verify their employment with the most relevant employer listed on the application and/or resume.

Maintenance of Records

While it can be very difficult for an applicant to determine whether they have been a victim of disparate treatment during the application process, there have been instances where individuals have made these claims and taken legal action. In the EEOC v. Target Corp. case, it was determined that Target violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by not hiring African American applicants based on race and they failed to keep documents as required by the law. Target Corp. ended up having to pay $510,000 for race discrimination at the conclusion of this lawsuit. This is why it is important that each organization has an established procedure for maintaining records. Employers are supposed to keep all application forms and any other records related to the hiring process on file for at least a year from when the hiring decision is made.

For my organization, I will devise a five (5)-step procedure that the HR Department will use in order to maintain all applicants records in case a discrimination charge occurs. Once the procedure is developed and drafted, the next step would be to introduce the procedure and provide training on the subject to the entire HR Department. Next, we would determine as a group which records we would retain (in addition to those mandated by the law). After this step, I would then assign record keeping duties to certain people within the HR Department, although everyone will be trained on what to do. These will be the people who are responsible for compiling, maintaining, and updating the records. Finally, once the retention period has been met for files, the responsible individuals will purge those files and go through every file to verify that they are still within the proper time period.

Background Checks

As the HR Director, I must also determine what type of background checks need to be conducted on candidates who have made it to or past the interview stage of the hiring process. Background checks are performed in order to verify the information provided by candidates and to make sure that there aren’t any existing disqualifying factors. Employers want to make sure they hire quality people and they are ultimately responsible for the safety of all their employees. For my organization, I will utilize several types of background checks, depending on the nature of the position, but the most important to me are criminal records, references, and verifying employment eligibility.

Obviously, criminal records checks are the most important because you want to make sure that the people you are hiring don’t pose physical threats to their peers or the company. Failing to perform this type of background check will more than likely result in negligent hiring. It is important that employers carefully review the information because not all candidates who have criminal activity records should be disqualified from the hiring process.

Checking references is another type of background check that I would utilize in my organization. Reference checks give the employer a little more insight about the candidate’s role in their former employment and any wrongdoing that may have occurred. There are some legal concerns when it comes to references, but they mostly apply to the candidate’s previous employer or the person who was listed as the reference.

Verifying employment eligibility is another background check that I would most definitely utilize during the hiring process for my organization. Because so many people from outside of the United States come here to work, it is the employer’s responsibility to verify that they are legally authorized to work.

Employment Tests

In addition to conducting a variety of background checks to determine a candidate’s fitness for a position, employment tests such as drug tests, honesty tests, and intelligence/skills tests are also used. Drug tests are perhaps the most common and widely used form of employment testing. Hair, urine, saliva, or blood samples are collected from candidates and sent to a lab, with results revealing whether or not a candidate has an illegal drug in their system or not. Most drug tests are administered once an offer of work has been accepted, but larger companies with a huge number of employees typically perform periodic random drug testing. For the purpose of this particular position, drug testing is relevant because the incumbent will be responsible for performing a variety of tasks and we need their full attention to complete them all. Additionally, illegal drug use or impairment on the job is strictly prohibited and is clearly outlined in the employee/policy handbook. Employers have to be careful though, when administering drug tests, as there are state and federal laws that they must abide by.

In addition to drug testing, my HR Department would also utilize skills testing during the hiring process. This type of test is considered a “scored test of ability” because it will be used to assess candidates’ specific job skills and knowledge as directly related to the available position(s). This method of testing could easily produce legal issues, such as discrimination, and the proper steps have to be taken to make sure that this doesn’t happen. In the case of my organization, the skills test that we give will be fairly basic in nature. It will include the candidates’ basic knowledge of Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, Access, and Outlook, a timed typing test, and a few simple arithmetic problems. In the job description and on the last page of the employment application, there will be a section devoted completely to explaining my organization’s pre-employment testing requirements. The candidate will have to write their initials to show their acknowledgment of the policy.

Lastly, the third employment test that my organization may utilize in the hiring process would be honesty/integrity tests. Generally, all employers want to ensure that the people they are hiring to grow their organizations are honest, trustworthy individuals. Most often, a lack of integrity is associated with all the workings of a bad employee. The absence of qualities like honesty and dependability are associated with unsatisfactory behaviors such as excessive absenteeism, theft, violence, destruction of property, and disciplinary issues. These types of tests aren’t intended to eliminate dishonest or unsatisfactory behavior in the workplace, but to weed out those who score poorly on the test, as they tend to be less suitable for that particular employment opportunity. Considering my organization deals with the public and every employee has easy access to sensitive, confidential information, it is our goal to hire the individuals who are dependable, honest, and trustworthy.

Policy for Hiring and Promotional Decisions

      As the HR Manager, it is my job to make sure that the right candidates are hired and to insure the fair promotion of qualified and deserving individuals. Initial hiring decisions have the potential to affect an employee’s opportunity for promotion in the future, so it is highly important that employers consider the legal implications of facially discriminatory requirements, appearance standards, and subjective criteria.

My organization’s policy for making both the hiring and promotional decisions for the job opportunity will be a fairly short and simple one. For this particular opportunity, the initial hiring decision will be made by myself, the HR manager, and the supervisor(s) with whom the employee(s) will report to. This means that we all will review applications and interview candidates together and collectively choose which candidate we think is the best fit for the position. The candidates will be placed in positions that they are best matched to, based on their experience, skills, and practical knowledge. Our main goal throughout the entire process is to provide equal employment opportunity for all, as we value diversity in the workplace. Our policy for promotional decisions will follow a similar pattern. All promotional opportunities will be communicated with employees of all levels and there will be a formal application process for those interested in the opportunity. All employees that apply for the position will be given an interview, in which the HR manager and supervisor(s) will review the employee’s overall job performance, skills and abilities, attendance and disciplinary records. The most qualified candidate will be the one selected for the promotional opportunity. 

·    Some employers use subjective criteria for assessing soft skills when it comes to making initial hiring and promotional decisions. In making promotional decisions, a major challenge this practice might present would be that the result could be biased, based on the evaluator. For example, a supervisor and one of his employees may not get along, but the employee is one of the best the company has had in over 12 years. An advancement opportunity arises, but this particular company leaves promotional decisions solely in the hands of the facility manager. In this instance, the manager dislikes the employee because he is quiet and doesn’t speak as much as the manager feels that he should. The individual is not rude and very respectful of management and his peers. The manager also dislikes the way that the employee dresses, and feels that he could probably find better clothes if he lost a few pounds. This particular employee is the best fit and most qualified candidate for the position, but the manager will more than likely hire another candidate based on his bias for the employee.  This type of disparate treatment is known as facially discriminatory and could result in legal charges against the company.  To mitigate this adverse impact, a plan HR could take would be to assign someone who knows the job, but doesn’t directly supervise the particular position. A designated group of evaluators could be trained to perform such evaluations and then report to the HR Department with recommendations for promotion.

Reasonable Accommodations and Legal Concerns

Reasonable accommodation is any modification to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allow individuals with disabilities  apply for  jobs, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. One type of reasonable accommodation for disabled applicants is the restructuring of a job so that the duties can be performed in alternative ways. One legal reason for not being able to sufficiently provide reasonable accommodation for this group is because it may cause an issue with the application process as a whole. If the job description says one thing and accommodations are made for a disabled employee, other employees may feel that they are being treated unfairly and the entire thing could get nasty for both sides. 

A reasonable accommodation for applicants needing special religious considerations might be that they have an interview scheduled during a time where they have other religious obligations. Legally, the employer must accommodate that individual and provide them with an alternate day and time, but what if the employer needs to hire someone immediately and can’t wait until the next time the applicant is available? The legal issue would then be whether the employer would be incurring and undue hardship in prolonging the hiring process to accommodate this person because of their need for special  religious consideration. 

Affirmative Action and Harassment

Affirmative action has been defined as “those actions appropriate to overcome the effects of past or present practices, policies, or other barriers to equal employment opportunity” (Walsh 237). The main focus of affirmative action is the improvement of equal employment opportunities in groups that have long been victims of discrimination. This includes people of color, women, disabled people, and veterans. While affirmative action plans are only required of most companies who have contracts with the federal government. Other companies, however, can determine whether or not they will have an affirmative action plan. In order to avoid discrimination charges, it is probably best the company voluntarily adopts a plan of their own. 

In a compliance review by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), it was found that the federally contracted meatpacking company Green Bay Dressed Beef, rejected 970 women for general laborer positions at the company’s Green Bay plant in 2006 and 2007. The company had to pay $1.65 million back pay, pension, and benefits to all women affected as well extend to them 248 job offers as they became available. Because the company is federally contracted, they are subject to the equal employment opportunity and affirmative action laws enforced by the OFCCP.

Harassment is another issue that employers have to be aware of in the workplace. Harassment negatively affects employees by preventing them from doing their jobs, putting them at risk for physical and psychological harm, and it could potentially cost them their job. It is the employer’s responsibility to be aware of what harassment is and to make sure that there is a policy in place for it within the organization. The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Mid-American Specialties, charging them with subjecting three former female employees to sexual harassment for over 2 years and retaliation against two of the three women by firing them for reporting the harassment. This is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits harassment based on sex and retaliation against those who report it. Mid-American did not have a sexual harassment policy, no training on sexual harassment, nor did they have a procedure for reporting it. The HR manager even admitted that she did not even know what the actual definition of sexual harassment was at the moment. The jury awarded the women over $1.5 million. The jury award also illustrates the importance of employers having sexual harassment policies and procedures for reporting them promptly. 

 I know that my organization must implement an affirmative action plan to protect us from discrimination charges like the one in the Green Bay Dressed Beef incident. Regardless of sex, age, race, or religion, people who meet the minimum qualifications for the job will be given equal opportunity for the position. To prevent harassment issues, I would develop a harassment policy, implement training, and devise a procedure for reporting harassment. Neither discrimination nor harassment will be tolerated within my organization and as the HR Manager, I will take every claim very seriously. 

Work-Life Conflicts

Work-life conflicts are something that all HR Managers should take into consideration, especially in today’s diverse workforce. One of those conflicts to consider are women or men, who are the heads of their families. They will need more time off to tend to their children’s births, doctors appointments, and emergency situations that may result in the employee taking extended periods of leave. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) resolves this conflict. Once they have exhausted their accumulated leave (annual and sick), they are covered by FMLA. Another work-life conflict to consider would be that of a person who is restricted to wearing certain garments or headdresses, because of their religion. Where they may face discrimination or harassment in the workplace because of the way that they are dressed or because of their religion, they are legally protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A final work-life conflict for my organization to consider would be the  disabled population amongst employees. They may need more time off from work for medical reasons or require reasonable accommodations on the job. This group of people is protected by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). For all of these work-life conflicts, and any others that may arise, my team will prepare a general policy that lies in accordance with each employment law and specifies the amount of leave each person is allowed to take. Should an individual need a more situation specific solution that will be discussed on a case-by-case basis. 

References

Assessment & Selection Other Assessment Methods. (n.d.). Retrieved August 14, 2015, from

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/assessment-and-selection/other-assessment-methods/integrityhonesty-tests/

Jury Awards over $1.5 Million in EEOC Sexual Harassment and Retaliation Case Against Mid

American Specialties. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10, 2015, from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/3-4-11.cfm

TARGET CORP. TO PAY $510,000 FOR RACE DISCRIMINATION. (2007, December 10).

Retrieved August 15, 2015, from http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/12-10-07a.cfm

Walsh, D. J. (2012). Employment Law for Human Resource Practice, 4e, 4th Edition.

[VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from http://strayer.vitalsource.com/books/9781133710820/page/103