Benefits and Compensation

5 Laws that Job Descriptions Can Violate

What Laws Are Involved?

A number of laws and regulations are involved as you complete your job descriptions and work with them, says Kennedy, including:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (proper classification as exempt or nonexempt)
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963 (comparing job values, pay values, and gender)
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (comparing pay levels and protected group status)
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (again, pay levels and protected status)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (working conditions, work environment—lifting, climbing ladders, etc.)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (delineating the essential functions of the job)

Kennedy is the principal consultant of MAKHR Consulting, LLC, and author of the career coaching book Finding the Right Job; A Step-By-Step Approach. She made her suggestions at a recent webinar sponsored by BLR®.

Vague, Inaccurate Job Descriptions Are Dangerous

Vague, inaccurate, or incomplete job descriptions will trip you up, says Kennedy.

For example, she says, performance appraisals can create problems when the manager gives low marks to someone for something that isn’t on the job description. (“You fired me for something that wasn’t even important enough to be on the job description that lists 10 essential functions but not this one?”)


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What Gets Left Out?

What gets left out of the job description? Some of the key items that Kennedy has seen left out of job descriptions include:

  • Part-time
  • Temporary
  • Bilingual Spanish/English
  • Keywords for your industry—like HRIS, ADP, ATS
  • Mandatory licenses, degrees, professional certification

Leaving key phrases out is a double whammy when recruiting, Kennedy says. First, you’ll attract thousands of unqualified people, and, second, they’ll all leave angry because of the “hidden” qualification.

In fact, one of Kennedy’s clients had a lawsuit in which the applicant claimed that she met all listed qualifications and wasn’t interviewed. The candidate claimed it was because she was in a protected class. It was true that the applicant was superbly qualified to do all the tasks outlined in the job description. Unfortunately, the person was clearly unqualified based on an unmentioned requirement.

A more-specific job description would have helped, Kennedy noted.

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Revised for the ADA, Pay Grades Added

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