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Avoid discrimination during the hiring process

As a business owner, you may already know how challenging the hiring process can be. You may be looking for someone who brings special skills or connections to the company, or you may want to hire someone who will be loyal and remain on your team for the long haul. Essentially, however, you want to find employees who are qualified and able to perform the duties of the job.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you must consider certain rules through every phase of the hiring process. From the moment you place an ad or recruit for an opening, during the job interviews, and beyond, the ADA attempts to protect those with disabilities who may otherwise be qualified to work in your company. It is critical that you understand the restrictions and responsibilities the ADA places on you before you begin the hiring process.

Focus on ability

Job interviews can be stressful for those on both sides of the table. To avoid any appearance of discrimination, ADA advisors recommend gearing your interview questions to the applicants' abilities rather than their disabilities. In fact, asking about an applicant's disabilities is a violation of his or her rights. Instead, focus your questions in such a way that the applicants can speak to their qualifications and strengths. Other rules to keep in mind include the following:

  • The questions you ask when interviewing someone with a disability must be the same questions you ask to those with no obvious disability.
  • You may ask applicants if and how they would perform the functions of the job, but you may not ask if the applicants have conditions that prevent them from performing certain tasks.
  • You may not inquire about an applicant's past substance abuse treatment, mental health conditions, physical or mental impairments, or workdays missed due to illness.
  • Unless an applicant has disclosed to you a disability or you can observe the applicant has a disability, you do not need to inquire whether the applicant requires accommodations for the job.

When the interview process is over, you are free to hire the most qualified candidate who will benefit your business. An applicant's disability should not affect that decision one way or the other. Nevertheless, the hiring process can be intimidating in light of the ADA regulations and the risk of discrimination lawsuits. This is why many Kentucky business owners seek the counsel of an attorney to review their policies as well as to build a defense against allegations of unfair hiring.

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