$10.5 million.

That’s what it cost Bass Pro Outdoor World to settle an EEOC case in 2017. Bass agreed to pay a class of Hispanic and African-American applicants who claimed they weren’t hired based on their race. The EEOC agreed.

As part of the settlement, the EEOC ordered Bass to proactively increase diversity hiring. The chain of sporting goods stores agreed to recruit at minority colleges/trade schools and post jobs in publications popular with underrepresented groups. (Note that Bass didn’t admit wrongdoing.)

Hiring laws should be taken as seriously as, well…a $10 million check.

Why Do Business Owners Violate Hiring Laws?

It’s hard to imagine that a business owner would willfully violate a hiring law. But plenty of employers are penalized every year. Are they ignorant of the laws? Do they just not care?

If you fall into either of these categories, you are on thin ice when it comes to compliance.

But we get it.

Compliance is complicated. Requirements change as your workforce increases. You are busy running your business.

Let’s look at your legal requirements per size of workforce.

Keep in mind that we are focusing on laws that affect hiring. Some regulations have a hiring component as well as many other implications.

How Large is Your Workforce?

As your company grows, there are milestones along the way. Your compliance burden increases as you add employees.

We recommend that you retain competent counsel. Employment law experts can help you navigate the byzantine layers of regulation.

But it’s important to be familiar with the hiring laws that affect you.

Here is a listing of the main hiring laws that apply to all employers. Keep in mind that your state may have additional ones. Union and government contracts may have special requirements as well.

Cumulative Hiring Laws

Your compliance burden never decreases. You are responsible for all the regulations that apply to one employee. When you hire your 15th worker, you are subject to additional laws. And so on.

1. Employers With At Least 1 Employee

  • FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act)
  • Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA)
    • Don’t hire employees who aren’t legally permitted to work in the U.S.
    • Keep I-9 forms for all workers on the payroll.
  • EPA (Equal Pay Act)
    • Male and female employees must be compensated equally for the same job role.
    • The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (passed in 2009) expanded the EPA significantly.
  • Uniform Guidelines for Employment Selection Procedures (under EEOC)
    • You cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • EPPA (Employee Polygraph Protection Act)
    • You cannot use lie detector tests in pre-hire screening or while the worker is employed. There are some exceptions for incidents when an employee is suspected of fraud. Consult your legal counsel if you have such a scenario at your company.

2. Employers With 15 or More Employees

3. Employers With 20 or More Employees

4. Employers With 50 or More Employees

  • AAP (Affirmative Action Program)
    • You must take active measures to recruit persons in designated classes: women, minorities, disabled, covered veterans. You must keep records of AAP hiring programs.

5. Employers With 100 or More Employees (May Apply to Government Contractors With 50+ Employees)

 

Remember that you have many other compliance requirements. FMLA, ACA, OSHA, and COBRA are some of them. As mentioned, these are the laws that affect recruiting directly.

If you contract with the federal government, you are subject to another layer of laws. They are similar to the laws mentioned previously but may kick in at earlier thresholds. Consult the DOL Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

The following states have additional hiring requirements.

  1. New York—marital status can’t be a factor in hiring
  2. Washington D.C.—political affiliation can’t be a factor in hiring

Ban the Box

These laws are named for the ‘box’ on job applications that indicates a criminal history. Each of the following states have a law related to hiring applicants with a criminal history. If you live in one of the following states, consult your state department of labor for the details. Additional states have ban the box provisions for public employers.

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Protect Your Company

Are your processes compliant with hiring laws? We recommend that you:

  • Provide compliance training for hiring managers and all members of your recruiting team.
  • Use structured interviews with scripted questions.
  • Consult your legal counsel when creating employment contracts.
  • Stay on top of local and state laws.
  • Maintain comprehensive records.
  • Verify eligibility to work.
    • Ensure applicants fill out I-9 completely, including signature, within 3 days of hire.
    • Require supporting documentation for applicants with a temporary work visa.
    • Review eligibility status frequently.

If You’re Serious About Compliance, Use An Applicant Tracking System

An applicant tracking system (ATS) makes it easier to comply with multiple layers of hiring laws. It helps you create compliant workflows with checklists to track progress and assign tasks. Manage structured interviews. Create compliant screening applications. Don’t sweat the recordkeeping requirements with powerful ATS databases and search functions.

An ATS protects your company from compliance violations as your workforce grows.

By Liz Strikwerda