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What Employers Can and Can’t Highlight In Online Job Applications

As a HR professional, you likely have questions about what you legally can and can’t say in an online job application. Ninja Gig will help highlight some basic job application rules.

Things to Avoid in Job Postings

Employers cannot discriminate and screen candidates that have traditional high school diplomas versus GEDs. Additionally, nearly half of all U.S. states prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation. While there are no federal laws that prohibit this, federal job postings should not reference sexual orientation.

Job applications cannot request that applicants that currently have jobs and are not receiving unemployment benefits apply. In fact, New York City has legislation that bans employers from discriminating against unemployed applicants.

Certain Types of Applicants

Most companies know that they cannot violate federal and state laws by requesting something as ludicrous as “Only married men should apply for the position.” Common violations seen in online job postings include inadvertent discrimination for protected classes of people. An example of this is “candidates with a strong family orientation” or “looking for applicants that have a young perspective on marketing and social media habits.”

Some companies do not have discriminating language in the job description but may post mission statements that make applicants assume they are looking for particular types of candidates. For example, “Our business mission is to know Jesus Christ and to live a fulfilling life within the Church.”

One way to avoid any potential misunderstandings is for businesses to state: “Women and men, and members of all ethnic and racial groups are encouraged to apply. We are interested in hiring all individuals, women and men, including those with disabilities and persons who are gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or intersex.”

There are rare discrimination law exceptions. If someone is disabled and the physical requirements and accommodations would make it physically challenging for the applicant to carry out the job duties, employers do not have to accommodate these types of requests.

Religious groups are permitted to give preference to a specific gender. Additionally, religious organizations are allowed to ask people with particular beliefs to apply, if the doctrine of the group requires a certain spiritual practice to sufficiently carry out job duties. For example, Lutheran Ministers are of the Lutheran faith, and Catholic Ministers are of the Catholic faith.

In very rare circumstances, if the connection of someone’s age is relevant to the job, an employer may be permitted to imply certain age limits. For example: “Applicants must be able to complete 25 years of service before the age of 62.”

If businesses have any questions related to what is and isn’t legal to incorporate into online job applications or employment postings, it is best to contact the federal and/or state government for additional information. Ninja Gig also recommends obtaining legal advice to ensure that all compliance requirements and laws are met.

Ninja Gig specializes in helping companies create unique online job applications. Whether you are looking to hire cashiers, registered nurses, teachers, insurance agents or build your customer service department, having a detailed employment application can help you find qualified applicants for your company.  By signing up for a free trial today, you can start accepting employment applications online immediately!