Is Your Employment Application Legal in Business and at Work?

Years ago as I ramped up my business providing outsourced HR leadership services to business owners, CEOs and Heads of HR, I would every now and then interview for an HR leadership employment opportunity.

Upon arriving 5 minutes before my interview appointment, I would invariably be greeted by the organization’s receptionist, who would hand me a clipboard with the organization’s employment application to complete.

And invariably, I would find legal / compliance issues with the employment application. While I don’t advise the average job applicant to correct issues with a prospective employer’s employment application as part of their interview process, ensuring such compliance is actually in my wheelhouse, whether I’m an employee or an HR vendor.  One memorable employment application had 6 compliance issues, which I reviewed with the organization’s Chief Operating Officer during my interview, advising him to confirm my observations with employer-side legal counsel. I wrote “please review” rather than providing non-compliant information – instead, I provided free HR consulting to the organization as part of my interview, which confirmed the entrepreneur path I ultimately chose.

One of the most common issues I see on employment applications is asking for high school and college graduation dates.   First of all, it’s not relevant to a candidate’s qualifications.  If an employer needs to validate that a candidate has the degree(s) claimed on the employment application, the proper (and compliant) timing is to include education verification in the equally compliant post-offer, pre-employment background check, ideally conducted by a competent and reliable third-party background check vendor.  Otherwise, asking for graduation dates before tendering an employment offer creates potential adverse impact exposure under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

How will you ensure that your organization’s employment application is compliant and legal in business and at work?

Employment application form

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