A variety of state and federal laws govern what you can and cannot do during all phases of the hiring process, including interviewing, investigating, testing, and selecting new employees.
Generally, you must:
… avoid illegal discrimination
… respect the applicant’s privacy rights
… refrain from making promises you can’t keep
… follow the legal rules for hiring immigrants, and
… follow the legal rules for hiring young workers.
No. The law does not require you to make written contracts with your employees. However, using a contract can be a good idea, especially if you are hiring for a high-level position and want to make sure that the employee sticks around for a while.
Yes. Because most teenagers are in school and many don’t yet have the physical capabilities and stamina of adults, federal and state laws restrict the types of jobs they can be hired to do and the hours they can be required to work. Most hazardous jobs — those using heavy machinery or potentially dangerous chemicals, for example — are closed to teenagers, as are jobs that would require younger teens to work more than three hours on a school day.
Yes, but only if the applicant’s disability makes him or her unable to perform an essential function of the job. For example, you can refuse to hire someone who is unable to lift things if one of the essential functions of the job is heavy lifting. However, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) puts limits on what and how you can ask applicants about disabilities before you make a job offer.
Not in so many words. Because it is illegal to discriminate against applicants and employees based on their national origin or citizenship status, you shouldn’t ask about these things during an interview. However, you can ask if the worker is legally authorized to work in the United States on a full-time basis.
No. A federal law called the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (and the laws of many states) prohibits almost all employers from asking or requiring applicants to take a lie detector test. The only exception is for employers that deal in controlled substances or provide certain types of security services, who are allowed to require certain applicants to take a polygraph test (a particular kind of lie detector test).
Yes, but only if the applicant consents. Many employers comply with this requirement by including a standard request for consent in their employment applications. If you decide not to hire someone based on information in the credit report, you have to let the applicant know and explain his or her right to challenge the contents of the report.
© 2010 Nolo