In the evolving world of employment law, staying compliant and adopting best practices in your hiring processes isn’t just beneficial—it’s imperative. Today, we’re zeroing in on an essential component: Hiring Practices.
1. Employment Applications: Seeking Appropriate Information
The initial step in auditing your hiring practices involves a thorough review of your employment applications. It’s crucial to ensure these applications seek only relevant and legally permissible information. Questions about race, religion, gender, age, marital status, and disabilities should be avoided unless they’re job-related and necessary for the business. This precaution helps prevent discrimination claims and ensures compliance with laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
Under California’s Ban the Box law, employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications. This means that the checkbox or question related to prior convictions must be removed from initial job application forms. Furthermore, SB 700 bans inquiries about past marijuana use and pre-employment drug screenings for cannabis.
2. Policy Acknowledgement by New Hires
Upon hiring, it’s essential that new employees are promptly informed about company policies, including those related to harassment, discrimination, and workplace conduct. Ensure that your onboarding process includes a mechanism for employees to acknowledge, in writing, that they have received, understood, and agreed to comply with these policies. This step not only educates new hires about your company culture and expectations but also provides a layer of legal protection by establishing that the employee was made aware of company policies from the outset.
3. Training Hiring Managers on Proper Interview Procedures
The role of hiring managers in the recruitment process cannot be overstated. It’s vital that they’re well-trained on appropriate interview procedures and questions. This includes understanding what constitutes illegal or inappropriate questions that could lead to discrimination claims. Training should cover the basics of employment law as it relates to hiring, including the importance of maintaining consistency in the questions asked of all candidates and focusing on the skills and qualifications necessary for the job. A well-informed hiring manager is your first line of defense against potential legal pitfalls in the hiring process.
4. Arbitration Agreements with Class Action Waivers
In an era where employment litigation can be costly and time-consuming, many employers opt to include arbitration agreements with class action waivers in their employment contracts. This practice can mitigate the risk of large-scale litigation by requiring individual arbitration of disputes. However, it’s important to review these agreements periodically to ensure they comply with evolving legal standards and are presented to employees in a manner that is considered fair and conscionable. The enforceability of such agreements often depends on the specifics of their wording and the context in which they’re presented, making regular audits of these documents a prudent practice.
Conducting an audit of your hiring practices is a proactive step toward ensuring legal compliance and fostering a positive workplace culture. By addressing these four critical areas—employment applications, policy acknowledgments by new hires, training for hiring managers, and arbitration agreements with class action waivers—you lay the foundation for a robust and compliant hiring process. Remember, the goal is not only to mitigate legal risks but also to create an inclusive and equitable hiring environment that attracts top talent to your organization.
Stay tuned for our next part in this series, where we’ll explore another vital aspect of employment practice audits – HR recordkeeping. In the meantime, consider getting Western Growers’ 2024 Personnel Procedures Manual. The PPM provides valuable guidance for agricultural employers in navigating California’s, Arizona’s and federal evolving employment laws.