Hiring Resources and Definitions

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Adverse Impact: Employee tests that tend to favor one group of (prospective) employees
over another create an adverse impact on the disfavored group. In order to justify the use of such tests, they must be job-related and there must be a business necessity for them.

Affirmative Action: Proactive steps taken by employers to help reverse the impact of past discrimination against minorities are called affirmative action. Further information is available from Cornell University Law School.

At-Will Employment: Both the employer and the employee may end at-will employment at any time without stating a reason. However, employers are not allowed to fire employees in a manner that goes against public policy or is discriminatory.

Disparate Treatment: According to the Labor Department, disparate treatment occurs when members of a racial, sexual or ethnic group are denied the same employment, promotion, membership or other opportunities available to other employees or applicants. An expanded definition is available on the Labor Department’s website.

Employment Discrimination: Discriminatory acts committed by employers or others in the workplace during hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, etc., are considered employment discrimination. This also can occur in the form of specific types of harassment.

Protected Group: A protected group is a group of employees or job applicants who are more likely than others to experience some form of discrimination or harassment because of their sex, race, age or disability.

Reasonable Accommodation: According to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, a reasonable accommodation requires employers to accommodate qualified employees or job applicants with disabilities, unless doing so creates an undue hardship on the employer.

Additional Resources for General Employment Law Information

Labor and employment laws for each state and links to state labor agency websites

Major federal employment laws

Federal Employment Law Guide

Last updated: Oct. 1, 2008