October 23, 2023

It Doesn’t Tickle When HR Blows the Whistle

It hurts. In one case, to the tune of $3.4 Million. Regardless of the industry, most businesses seek to grow their market share. In doing so, they may try to offer services that meet their prospective customers’ preferences. Some might describe that as part of their diversity program, such as hiring non-white employees to reflect the customer base they serve.  That may be permissible in recruiting but not for selection or hiring decisions. This employer learned that the hard way.

The original complaint alleges the candidate, a black male, received an offer letter. The Company’s HR Director then advised him they were rescinding the offer because of his misdemeanor charge five years prior. The company then hired a white candidate who had a more significant criminal history.  When the HR Director (who later became the whistleblower) questioned the President about the selection, the President replied that whites could “get in the door with customers that minorities could not. ” The lawsuit sought punitive damages, among many more, claiming the employer’s actions were “willful, malicious, and in reckless disregard of the Plaintiff federally protected rights.” It seems the jury agreed.

Sometimes our best intentions go awry.  Ensure your policies, practices, and programs – whether related to DEIBA (diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility) or business development – do not (un)intentionally result in adverse impact, screening out qualified candidates based on any protected status.

Speaking of…did you miss this week’s “Equity and Equality in the Workplace” webcast? 100% of the attendees gave it an overall rating of “Excellent” (89%) or “Above Average” (11%). Click here to access the recording, $25 pp, pre-approved by HRCI and SHRM for 1.25 credits.