So, take the time to carefully think through the description of the job you’re hiring for. Start with the minimum qualifications: Some examples: A four-year nursing degree, 3 years in customer service, a California surveyor’s license, or Microsoft Office Specialist certification.
Lay out the essential functions in the job description: for example, developing energy savings projects in stamping, assembly, machining, and painting process.
Also spell out in the job description any unusual demands of the job: for example, “Must be able to lift 50 pounds,” or “Must be willing to travel 2 weeks per month,” or even “Must be able to work under stress.”
Why do job descriptions protect you? Because by narrowly defining the job requirements, you shrink the pool of candidates who could successfully sue you for discrimination. No judge is going to say you’re guilty of discrimination for not hiring a person who wasn’t even qualified for the job.
Ill-thought-out job descriptions can also sting you AFTER you hire someone. Imagine you forgot to mention certain “administrative duties” as part of the job. You hire a person in a protected class who meets all the requirements. You assign the person some administrative tasks and they say, “That wasn’t in the job description. You’re discriminating against me by giving me this dead-end, low-level work.” What went wrong? The hiring manager didn’t carefully think through in advance ALL the tasks she wanted this candidate to perform.
Here’s a tip: In the “essential functions” portion of every job description, include a bullet point that reads, “Other duties as assigned.” This is reasonable because you can’t always predict exactly what a job will entail. It gives you a bit of wiggle room, and it could protect you in court.
Next post: A story about an employment law attorney who violated her own "minimum requirements" standard and almost got sued.
Publisher, The HR Cafe