A quick reference sheet of what employers reference as they consider your candidacy.
By John O'Connor
Employment laws often weigh on employers and influence more than you may think. Not exactly clear on what your rights as a job seeker are? I’ve compiled the handy list below, packed with links to government sites with more information, as a reference for executives like you who are going through the job-search process.
Most hiring decisions are governed by rules and regulations. It’s the law, folks. Yet candidates are likely to underestimate how many hiring decisions are based on existing law. Here’s hoping you never need to use it with a careless employer, but it’s important to know the rules of the game you’re playing.
Unlike the sinister motives outlined in the movie “The Devil’s Advocate,” most employment laws developed years ago and amended continuously until today were meant to protect us and to encourage employers to do the right thing. Here’s a primer of what employers reference as they consider you for employment:
This includes but is not limited to discrimination and harassment:
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination;
- Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government; and
- Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments;
- Medical and drug testing
- Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the private sector, and in state and local governments; State Laws
- Running background checks and credit checks
- Fair Credit Reporting Act, State Laws
- All employment contracts: provisions, non-compete agreements, terminations and more
- State Law (every state has a law on non-competes)
- Hiring immigrant workers
William Joseph Austin, Jr., a pre-eminent employment law attorney with Ward & Smith P.A. in Raleigh, N.C., points out that EEO laws, both federal and state, impose a deep and abiding constraint on employer discretion in the entire process. Times being what they are, the trajectory is toward more regulation in the future, not less. Austin goes on to note recent changes in hiring: “Most recently Congress expanded the "Disabilities" in the Americans with Disabilities Act by repudiating overly restrictive Supreme Court opinions and also by augmenting the ADA definition and interpretation of "disability."
Austin also notices that job seekers are protected on the basis of such an ever-growing list of classifications, characteristics, traits, and conditions that no employer can afford to undertake seat-of-the-pants recruitment and hiring. Careless employers pay a high price.
John M. O'Connor, MFA, is the president of Career Pro of NC, Inc., a comprehensive career services organization specializing in executive outplacement, corporate outplacement, federal/military career transition and consulting. He was appointed to the board of directors (2006) for Raleigh-Wake Human Resources Management Association (RWHRMA.org). He is also a certified career coach (CECC), certified resume writer (CRW) and credentialed career master (CCM).