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Is It Legal? What You Need to Know About Labor Law & Recruitment

Posted by Eric Friedman


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Any recruiter or hiring manager will tell you that optimizing the recruitment process is one of their top priorities. It takes time to properly research best practices and develop a new recruitment strategy that will help you find, select, and hire the best talent. But before you can implement your new strategy, you must ask yourself one crucial question: is it legal?

The last step before deploying a new recruitment and selection process is to vet it against all regulatory requirements.

That includes EEOC regulations, employment rights legislation, and all labor and workforce laws. This step is necessary to make sure your new process meets and exceeds those standards.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC enforces the federal labor laws that protect job applicants (and employees) by prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

This means that any candidate selection process must comply with EEOC regulations to ensure that no candidates are selected (or passed up) for any of the reasons above.

To make things clear, the EEOC has a list of prohibited employment policies and practices that every company must avoid in its job advertising, recruitment, and application and hiring processes.

This includes some obvious violations, such as using language like “seeking females,” which excludes men from applying, or basing hiring decisions on stereotypes about a particular race or religion.

The EEOC also protects job applicants when it comes to evaluating their ability to perform the job. If you plan to administer a pre-hiring test, the EEOC specifies that it must be necessary and related to the job.

Pre-employment skills assessments are a useful tool in recruitment, as long as they meet EEOC standards by testing skills specifically related to the job in question and not excluding people of a certain race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or individuals with disabilities.

Employment Legislation and Labor Laws

While the EEOC, an independent federal agency, promotes  equal opportunity in employment through education and technical assistance, the U.S. Department of Labor manages and enforces more than 180 federal labor laws that apply to approximately 125 million workers across the country.

These labor laws include employment legislation dealing with:

Being aware of these labor laws as you develop a recruitment strategy will help you avoid a heap of trouble—not to mention attorney’s fees. A candidate who is passed up for a job for any reason protected by labor rights law is entitled to hire a workplace lawyer who will build a case against your company for discrimination, a scenario you want to avoid at all costs.

Keeping Recruitment Legal

Staying current on employment legislation is important, and so is keeping these laws in mind when recruiting and hiring candidates. Here are a few tips to make sure your entire recruitment process adheres to the letter of the law.

  1. ‘>Stay objective. When drafting job postings, think in terms of the basic competencies and skills required for the job. Administering pre-employment testing can help ensure that your hiring practices are legally valid if you strictly stick to tests that are relevant to the specific duties and functions of the job. Make sure your selection criteria do not inadvertently exclude people (e.g.: requiring a college degree when it isn’t necessary for the job, which can potentially exclude certain racial minority groups).
  2. ‘>Conduct frequent reassessments. Even after you implement a new recruiting strategy, make sure to revisit it from an employment law point of view: look out for any statements or practices that could be seen as discriminatory or disadvantageous to people of certain backgrounds.
  3. ‘>Choose recruiters wisely. If you decide to use an outside recruiting agency, make sure they fully adhere to EEOC and labor laws in making their selections. If a candidate has rightful cause, he or she can bring a discrimination case against both the recruiting agency and your company.

Following labor laws in recruitment will help you avoid potential lawsuits, while your company reaps the benefits of a more diverse workforce. How do you incorporate your knowledge of employment legislation when drafting recruitment strategies?

Click here to discover our Slideshare Presentation and learn more about the requirements and best practices in performing a job analysis, understanding labor laws and their impact on recruitment!

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About Eric Friedman


Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of online skills assessment for pre-employment selection and training. Since 2003, eSkill has tested millions of job candidates for employers worldwide such as Zappos, ADP, Coca-Cola, Randstad, and GE. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their roles.
To learn more about Eric and eSkill, visit the company website at www.eskill.com , or contact him on LinkedIn.

5 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Luke D. May, 16, 2016

    It is not only about race or religion, but it is also about correctly evaluating candidates and employees, ensuring that their activity is properly appreciated and that no personal views will create tension. 

  • Michael Haberman May, 17, 2016

    Actually the prime labor law to be aware of is the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA founded the National Labor Relations Board, which is the governing body in determining if employees are protected or not. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) you referenced deals more with the behavior of unions and how they deal with their finances and such. The big employee protector is the NLRA.

  • Eric Friedman May, 18, 2016

    Thank you for your comment, Michael. I completely agree with it. We added this to the labor laws mentioned above and updated the article. Along with the NLRA, we wanted our readers to know as much as possible about relevant employment law.

  • Gabriella A. May, 19, 2016

    Skills assessment tools or video interviews may be steps in the right direction because they allow you to protect the candidate and the company at the same time. Some may think they are expensive, but the cost of a lawsuit will be higher. 

  • Lucy M. May, 23, 2016

    Not all of us can afford an in-house lawyer or think one is needed, but we have all had disgruntled employees or candidates, and we know that one wrong step can cause a world of legal problems. When you create HR strategies from recruiting to compensations, it is best to get a legal expert’s input.


Guest May, 23, 2016