HR Management & Compliance

Accidentally Discriminated While Hiring? The EEOC Can Still Sue You

In Yesterday’s Advisor we explored how accidental discrimination still occurs all the time during the hiring process. Today, we’ll see what that can mean for your company and how to avoid such a problem.

Take a look at yesterday’s article to see detailed findings. In short, the study found that if applicants were racially transparent (made no effort to remove indicators of their minority status like name and minority-oriented work experiences on their résumés) they were much less likely to receive callbacks. That can seriously affect any company by opening them up to serious legal problems.

A False Sense of Security

Implicit bias represents a false sense of security for recruiters, who most often think of themselves as bias-free. Whether they are aware or not, such recruiters open up their employers to discrimination claims.

Another group of people with a false sense of security are minorities themselves who specifically seek out pro-diversity companies with the hopes that they have a good shot at being hired. The study shows that these types of applicants are much less likely to whiten their résumés when applying to those kinds of companies. Furthermore, more minorities apply to jobs that seem to be pro-diversity, while feeling safe in not altering their résumés.

As a result, two things occur. First, minority job applicants are being discriminated against in general. Second, because they apply to pro-diversity companies in greater numbers, they are actually being disproportionately discriminated against by companies that claim they are pro-diversity. Besides being supremely unfair from the perspective of the applicants, from a compliance perspective, this is a nightmare.

Discrimination Lawsuits

This study shows just how vulnerable every employer is to implicit bias. If a company is shown to be accepting fewer minorities that are equally qualified to nonminorities, it won’t matter much to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) whether it was intentional or not. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can conquer implicit bias and make sure your hiring process is fair.


The number one way to combat implicit bias is to train your recruiters and hiring managers about implicit bias. This training should remind them that:

  • Implicit bias is not the same as overt bias, and as a consequence, might be a factor in your recruiters’ hiring process without them even knowing it.
  • There are real, legal consequences to discriminating against minorities during the interview process (and of course, at any time)—even if that discrimination is not intentional.

Stick to the Criteria

Another way to combat implicit bias is to make sure that your recruiting staff stick to the basic criteria of the job, and match up the qualifications to those criteria. In other words, does the applicant have the requisite work experience and other qualifications to do the job well. If the answer is yes, that person should make it to the next step, no matter what his or her name is.

Give Each Résumé a Detailed Read

Simply skimming a résumé results in you absorbing very few details, among them, the name of the applicant, location, education, and some of his or her basic experiences. Some of these are also the kinds of things that will immediately reveal whether he or she a minority. A thorough read of a résumé will result in a better understanding of the candidate than just a name, and potentially, if he or she is a part of a minority group.


One final tactic you might try involves having a person who is not involved in hiring decisions review all résumés, and replace the names of the applicants with a code number. This prevents the recruiter from subconsciously drawing conclusions from the applicant’s name.