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by Eileen M. Levitt | March 10, 2009

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In recent months, I have received numerous e-mails from people asking for clarity on laws and regulations affecting the recruiting efforts of an organization. In response to these inquiries, the intent of this column is to summarize some of the most significant ones that you should be aware of when hiring (and managing) people.

Of course, there are also state laws that apply. You should check with your state human rights office, labor lawyer or Chamber of Commerce to determine which laws apply to your organization.

Federal Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) Act.This act imposes legal obligations on employers to ensure that employment policies and practices do not discriminate on the basis of human differences--race, age, sex, and others. This law applies to companies of all sizes.

Equal Pay Act.This act prohibits wage discrimination on the basis of sex with jobs that require equal work. This law applies to companies of all sizes.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.This applies to employers with 15 or more employees. The act requires employers to extend equal employment opportunities to people regardless of disability, including pregnancy. Employers must make reasonable accommodations to interview prospective employees who are disabled, and once they are hired.

Such accommodations apply to practically every aspect of the employment relationship, including job application procedures, hiring, promotions, discharge, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The term "qualified individual with a disability" means a person with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job. ~ Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.This act prevents discrimination based on the race, religion, sex, or national origin of the job applicant. This also applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.This act amended Title VII to include the prohibition of discrimination based upon an employee's pregnancy or other related medical conditions. It is, therefore, unlawful for your firm to make any adverse employment decisions because of or related to an employee's pregnancy. It is illegal to refuse to hire, fire, transfer, or reduce any benefits because a woman is pregnant. This applies to organizations with 15 or more employees.

Age Discrimination Act.Passed in 1967 and applying to organizations with 20 or more employees, it makes discrimination on the basis of age illegal.

Affirmative Action.If you're an employer with 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts, Executive Order 11246 requires your organization to take affirmative action to employ applicants of various protected classes. State or local laws may also impose similar requirements. Additional documentation and reporting requirements apply, depending upon the dollar volume of the contract or the size of your work force. All job postings and advertisements must prominently state that you are an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action (example: EOE/AA/D/V).

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This act places additional legal obligations on all employers and all prospective employers when collecting information about applicants and existing employees from outside third-party organizations known as credit reporting agencies. Employers using such agencies to obtain employment decision-making information must advise the applicant/employee of that fact, obtain their permission, and notify them if the information obtained could result in an adverse determination, and provide them with a summary of their rights under this act. The applicant/employee must also be advised of his or her right to obtain a copy of the credit report if an adverse decision is actually made based on the information. Information could be previous job references, education, credit, criminal search, etc.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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