Hiring a new employee should be an exciting opportunity for an employer, but some cities find personnel matters stressful. Employment law seems to be fraught with legal peril, starting with the hiring process. Many employers fear accusations of discrimination or other improper handling of an employment issue, and cities are no different.
Having a good hiring process in place, however, can save you from legal problems down the line. Simply having a consistent process that you follow for each hire is a great first step.
The job posting
Many cities wonder if they must post or advertise a job opening. Neither federal nor Texas law requires you to post the job opening, but you should consider doing so anyway.
Opening up the applicant pool may help you deflect discrimination allegations later. When you target a small pool of applicants, a potential applicant outside of that pool could claim you were deliberately limiting the applicants to exclude a certain group of people. Your posting should clearly state the requirements necessary for the position. Your posting may not state a preference for employees based on illegal criteria.
Understanding discrimination law
Your hiring staff should be well-trained on discrimination laws. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on color, race, national origin, age, disability, religion, or sex, which includes gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy.
Even neutral employment policies that have a “disproportionately negative impact” on these protected groups could be classified as discriminatory by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Being aware of your obligations as an employer is a major factor in avoiding a legal misstep.
Creating a civil service system
Some counties and municipalities decide to implement a civil service system as part of their hiring and promotion policy. Under Texas law, a civil service system uses merit, skills and qualifications for hiring and promoting employees.
If you choose to implement this type of system, you will need to establish a screening process. This may include testing and minimum requirements for the job. Many cities use this type of process for hiring police and fire department personnel.
Having a consistent system that proactively works to avoid discriminatory practices and uses a merit-based hiring process can help you avoid future legal problems when you hire that next new employee.