By Peter G. Christian |
The recent news that Target Corp. agreed to pay $2.8 million to rejected job applicants pursuant a settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) serves as an important reminder: Job applicants have rights too! While many misunderstand the employment related protections of benchmark discrimination laws – such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act – to be afforded only to employees, the reality is that these laws often make no such distinction. Those out looking for work should know that, in most instances, employers cannot fail to hire an applicant because of that applicant’s minority status, including gender, race, age, sexual orientation, and/or disability.
In the recent instance of Target, the EEOC alleged that the company discriminated against certain minority applicants through the use of pre-employment tests which disproportionately screened out these minorities (though the EEOC noted that the adverse impact on minorities did not appear purposeful). While this type of “disproportionate impact” is one example of how a company’s hiring practices can be illegal, it is certainly not the only way. If an employer’s decision to reject an applicant is motivated by that applicant’s minority status, that decision is likely illegal. At Schaefer Halleen, we find that plaintiffs who succeed in alleging that a potential employer wrongfully failed to hire them often share a common set of facts: (1) they were highly qualified for the job; (2) a less qualified non-minority applicant received the job instead of them; and (3) they have evidence to suggest that they were not hired because of their minority status.
While there are certain unique scenarios where an employer can allow an applicant’s minority status to influence its hiring decision, we find that these scenarios are rare. If you feel you were not hired for a job because of your gender, race, age, sexual orientation, and/or disability contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss an appropriate course of action.
Peter G. Christian is an employment litigator at Schaefer Halleen, LLC committed to protecting the rights of individuals in the workplace. As an advocate who takes pride in representing a wide range of employees – from top level executives to blue collar laborers – Peter has secured significant victories for an array of clients in many areas of employment related litigation, and against some of the biggest corporations in the world. For his advocacy on behalf of employees, he was named a Rising Star by Minnesota Super Lawyers, Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, and Twin Cities Business.