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  1. #1
    zjones9876 is offline Junior Member
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    Legal not to hire because candidate is a single parent?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY

    I will try to keep this as brief as possible.

    I am one of 4 on the search committee for a new assistant to one of the bigshot directors. We have a 3 step interview process and any of us have veto power. We pay substantially more than market rate and have amazing benefits, but we expect a lot out of our employees.

    This is a very important position for smooth day-to-day operations. The last person in this job is about to be fired (they don’t know it yet) after only 2 months because of too many unscheduled absences. Literally every week she was late, had to leave early, or was absent the entire day without notice because of either a transportation delay (she took the bus) or an issue with one of her kids. (She was a single mom with 4 young children and no father around). These unexpected absences caused major disruptions. Therefore one thing we are really looking for is reliability. Our HR director has already said it’s perfectly legal to pass on a candidate who relies on public transportation.

    We had a candidate Friday who I liked and was going to recommend moving on to the next round. She volunteered in the interview that she was a single mom with two kids and no father around. (Note: We did NOT ask her about this).

    Later that day one of the other people in on the selection committee confided in me that he really did not want to hire another single mom. Truthfully I can see his point after thinking about it, but on the other hand I want to follow the law. I do not want to ask HR because then if this person doesn’t get hired and it somehow comes out that this came up as an issue, it will look like I pulled the plug.

    So my question is… is it legal to not hire somebody because they are a single parent?
    Last edited by zjones9876; 09-25-2011 at 12:42 PM.
  2. #2
    cyjeff is offline Senior Member
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    Since the door was opened, I would ask another question or two of this spectacular candidate...

    Ask how often personal issues kept that person out of the office over the previous 12 months.

    Ask it of all the applicants.

    After all, you don't care WHY they weren't in the office, you just care whether they were or not, right?
  3. #3
    Stevef is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zjones9876 View Post
    So my question isÖ is it legal to not hire somebody because they are a single parent?
    The sort answer is no, you cannot refuse to hire someone because he or she is a single parent.

    Take a look at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/caregiving.html for more information.

    I think you are better off informing the candidate that work comes first, and no excuses are tolerated for poor attendance.
  4. #4
    You Are Guilty is offline Senior Member
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    This is the very first section (of a long) statue on discrimination law in NY:
    Quote Originally Posted by NY Executive Law
    296. Unlawful discriminatory practices.

    1. It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice:

    (a) For an employer or licensing agency, because of an individual's age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, disability, predisposing genetic characteristics, marital status, or domestic violence victim status, to refuse to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment such individual or to discriminate against such individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tranquility
    Once you get to crazy land, it is only a guess on how to get out.
  5. #5
    LdiJ is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zjones9876 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? NY

    I will try to keep this as brief as possible.

    I am one of 4 on the search committee for a new assistant to one of the bigshot directors. We have a 3 step interview process and any of us have veto power. We pay substantially more than market rate and have amazing benefits, but we expect a lot out of our employees.

    This is a very important position for smooth day-to-day operations. The last person in this job is about to be fired (they donít know it yet) after only 2 months because of too many unscheduled absences. Literally every week she was late, had to leave early, or was absent the entire day without notice because of either a transportation delay (she took the bus) or an issue with one of her kids. (She was a single mom with 4 young children and no father around). These unexpected absences caused major disruptions. Therefore one thing we are really looking for is reliability. Our HR director has already said itís perfectly legal to pass on a candidate who relies on public transportation.

    We had a candidate Friday who I liked and was going to recommend moving on to the next round. She volunteered in the interview that she was a single mom with two kids and no father around. (Note: We did NOT ask her about this).

    Later that day one of the other people in on the selection committee confided in me that he really did not want to hire another single mom. Truthfully I can see his point after thinking about it, but on the other hand I want to follow the law. I do not want to ask HR because then if this person doesnít get hired and it somehow comes out that this came up as an issue, it will look like I pulled the plug.

    So my question isÖ is it legal to not hire somebody because they are a single parent?
    Other people gave you good answers, however you also need to keep in mind that just because one employee, as a single parent, was unreliable, does not mean, at all, that another employee who is a single parent, will also be unreliable.

    Many single parents have good support networks and are very reliable employees. I suspect that the current employee, with 4 children, and relying on public transportation probably struggled much more than most single parents...and its quite sad that she is losing her job.
  6. #6
    zjones9876 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for your advice.

    In my experience, young single moms with no fathers in the picture do have a higher rate of unexcused absences. You can bash me for thinking that, but it's what I've seen. From a purely dollars and cents standpoint, I would rather not hire them. But at the end of the day I need to do what is best for the company within the bounds of the law.

    My gut feeling is that my co-worker who brought this up with me is going to veto her even if I bring the illegality of it to his attention. So now the question is whether or not it's better for him to know it's against the law before he decides to take her out of the running. At least if the company got sued he could truthfully testify that he didn't know it was illegal. (but I couldn't)
  7. #7
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zjones9876 View Post
    Thank you for your advice.

    In my experience, young single moms with no fathers in the picture do have a higher rate of unexcused absences. You can bash me for thinking that, but it's what I've seen. From a purely dollars and cents standpoint, I would rather not hire them. But at the end of the day I need to do what is best for the company within the bounds of the law.

    My gut feeling is that my co-worker who brought this up with me is going to veto her even if I bring the illegality of it to his attention. So now the question is whether or not it's better for him to know it's against the law before he decides to take her out of the running. At least if the company got sued he could truthfully testify that he didn't know it was illegal. (but I couldn't)

    Ignorance is no defense in this situation. If he's in a hiring position, he is expected to know the law.
  8. #8
    Banned_Princess is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zjones9876 View Post
    Thank you for your advice.

    In my experience, young single moms with no fathers in the picture do have a higher rate of unexcused absences. You can bash me for thinking that, but it's what I've seen. From a purely dollars and cents standpoint, I would rather not hire them. But at the end of the day I need to do what is best for the company within the bounds of the law.

    My gut feeling is that my co-worker who brought this up with me is going to veto her even if I bring the illegality of it to his attention. So now the question is whether or not it's better for him to know it's against the law before he decides to take her out of the running. At least if the company got sued he could truthfully testify that he didn't know it was illegal. (but I couldn't)
    The catch is, you don't have to tell the candidate WHY you are rejecting their application, or why this person is being fired.

    ok.
    Last edited by Banned_Princess; 09-26-2011 at 07:23 AM.
  9. #9
    ecmst12 is offline Senior Member
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    That was inappropriate, BP.

    If you stress the need for reliability and the fact that her schedule will not be flexible, then if she is not able to meet those expectations hopefully she will take herself out of the running. On the other hand, your assumption that she will be unreliable just because she is a single mom is walking on very shaky ground, legally speaking.
  10. #10
    eerelations is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by zjones9876 View Post
    Thank you for your advice.

    In my experience, young single moms with no fathers in the picture do have a higher rate of unexcused absences. You can bash me for thinking that, but it's what I've seen. From a purely dollars and cents standpoint, I would rather not hire them. But at the end of the day I need to do what is best for the company within the bounds of the law.

    My gut feeling is that my co-worker who brought this up with me is going to veto her even if I bring the illegality of it to his attention. So now the question is whether or not it's better for him to know it's against the law before he decides to take her out of the running. At least if the company got sued he could truthfully testify that he didn't know it was illegal. (but I couldn't)
    As someone has advised you already, ignorance of the law won't wash. And if your employer finds out that you knowingly withheld very important information from a colleague that landed your organization (not your colleague, your organization) in an expensive lawsuit (and heed this, even if your organization somehow manages to not lose this lawsuit, it will still be very expensive), then you will be fired. And that would be perfectly legal.

    The very best advice you've been given here is by cyjeff. What he proposes is exactly what I'd do - and I'm very very good at recruitment and hiring.

    As an aside, I once hired a woman who turned out to be a perfect EA. I have met many EAs in my time, before and since, and this one was better than all of the others put together. And we didn't even find out she was a single mom until about a year after she was hired! And before you ask, she's still there at that organization, not as an EA but as a Director. I won't be so unprofessional as to use the term "bigshot" to describe her, but she is a real VIP around that place.
    Last edited by eerelations; 09-26-2011 at 08:50 AM.
  11. #11
    csi7 is offline Senior Member
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    I agree with cyjeff.
    If attendance is that important, it should be brought up in the interview process. Each applicant should be informed of the requirement.
    During an interview, a candidate was in top place, until she stated, on her own, that she is several months pregnant and will need time off.
    The position was described as restricted time off, daily work schedule requirement, and immediate termination for excess absences.
    This candidate turned in a complaint with the state agency and the complaint was found to be unsubstantiated. The question was answered by all the applicants on the form used by the interview team members.

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