A recruitment compliance checklist for US companies


Compliance is one of the most useful areas an HRMS can be utilized. This is especially important when handling people data. 

The fundamental principle of hiring will always be choosing the best person for the job. However, while the principle is simple, recruitment can be anything but. Federal and state laws place certain recordkeeping and best practice requirements on employers and any lack of compliance risks fines or other sanctions. What follows is a quick checklist of the key federal requirements.

Advertising positions

A variety of federal laws (for example, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act) seek to prevent any discrimination against persons on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, or individuals with disabilities. When recruiting, job descriptions and advertising must not state or imply that the job is not open to applicants on any of these grounds.

Interviewing and assessment

Interview questions must focus on the applicant’s ability to do the job and must not stray into topics such as disability, race, color, gender, religion, etc. Any tests that are part of the hiring process must be wholly relevant to the position you are seeking to fill, and should not exclude on any of the abovementioned grounds – nor should a test exclude applicants aged 40 or older.

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Finally, specifically referencing candidates with a disability, the chosen interview venue must be fully accessible and should an accommodation be needed (e.g. sign language interpreter) you must provide that facility, assuming that it does not involve unreasonable difficulty or expense.

Background checks

At a federal level, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires written authorization be obtained before carrying out employment background checks such as employment history verification, academic history verification, credit check, drug test, driving record, or arrest and conviction records.

Employment references

It is illegal for an employer to give a negative or false employment reference (or refuse to give a reference) because of a person's race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

Job offers & follow-up

Again, the key federal measure to avoid discriminatory language or implication when letting candidates know the outcome of the hiring process. The easiest route to compliance is the use of standard template letters which have been checked and okayed by a HR or labor law specialist.

Relevant government body for all of the above: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Sanctions for breaches of legislation vary, often depending on the size of the employer organization, but fines of up to $300,000 have been handed out by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Federal contractors

Finally, federal contractors are expected to refrain from discrimination in hiring on the grounds mentioned above plus protected veteran status. Such contractors are also expected to ensure equal opportunity of employment by engaging in affirmative action. Requirements differ according to the size of the government contract in question. More than $10,000 requires affirmative action for the employment and advance of employment-qualified workers with disabilities. Firms with contracts worth than $100,000 must do the same for protected veterans.

Relevant government body: Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs

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Dave Foxall

About the author…

Dave has worked as HR Manager for the Ministry of Justice for a number of years, he now writes on a broad range of topics including jazz music, and, of course, the HRMS software market.

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Dave Foxall

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