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Why job application documents must be handled with extreme care - II

Last month, we began discussing how even though it can be exhilarating for small business owners to finally be in a position to bring in some much-needed help, they will nevertheless want to proceed with caution in this endeavor -- particularly when it comes to drafting job applications.

Specifically, we discussed how legal experts indicate business owners must take care not to ask applicants questions that would reveal information they wouldn't otherwise be able to consider when making a hiring decision, as this could result in legal exposure.

To help illustrate the importance of this point, our blog began exploring some of the common mistakes that these same experts say employers are prone to making in drafting job applications. We'll continue this exploration in today's post.

Asking applicants to supply graduation dates as part of their education

While this inquiry may seem harmless enough, the reality is that it could form the basis for a discrimination claim brought under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act or an applicable state law, as an employer could theoretically use the information to determine the applicant's age.

Indeed, experts indicate that such a request could be especially damaging if the graduation dates have no relevance whatsoever to the position qualifications.

Asking applicants about their citizenship status

Questions about an applicant's citizenship status would violate the Immigration Reform and Control Act's antidiscrimination provision. Even though it's understandable why a business owner would want to be particularly cautious in this area, they must remember that there is a more appropriate -- and legal -- way to secure this information: the Form I-9.

Asking applicants for photographs  

While a business owner's motivation for requesting applicant photographs may be entirely innocent, experts indicate this is nothing short of a terrible idea. Indeed, guidance from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission prohibits prospective employers from requesting applicant photographs.

If a photograph will be required for the purposes of identification, experts indicate the request may only be made once the applicant actually accepts an employment offer.

If you are a small business owner with questions or concerns relating to this or another employment law matter, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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