Avoiding Employment Discrimination Claims as a Veterinary Practice Owner

If you own a veterinary practice, it is imperative that you take steps to reduce your liability risk in a variety of areas. One risk area that veterinary practice owners sometimes overlook is hiring. As a veterinary practice owner, you must ensure that your hiring practices are compliant with state and federal law. Given the number of anti-discrimination laws on the books, this can be a difficult task for even the most conscientious veterinary practice owner. It is for this reason that every veterinary practice owner should work with an experienced veterinary attorney to ensure that all hiring practices are compliant with federal and state laws. Below is some additional information on employment discrimination risk areas. 

What Protections Do Job Candidates Receive? 

Discrimination against a job candidate based on any of the following protected characteristics is prohibited by federal law: 

  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • National origin

In addition, state and local laws provide protections based on other characteristics, such as gender identity and sexual orientation.

Discrimination and the Hiring Process

Job candidates are protected by local, state, and federal laws during each step of the hiring process. These steps include: 

  1. Job Advertisements The hiring process usually begins with a job advertisement. As a veterinary practice owner, you must ensure that the job advertisements you place are compliant with all applicable equal employment opportunity laws. 
  2. Job Interviews – Equal employment opportunity laws protect job candidates during the interview process. Questions that address certain protected characteristics are prohibited. This is an area where many practices make mistakes, as it is much easier than you might think to unintentionally ask a prohibited question. For example, asking a candidate when he or she graduated from college can be construed as a form of age discrimination. Examples of other prohibited questions include inquiries about marital status, parenting status, national origin, religion, and sex. 
  3. Background ChecksFinally, many states prohibit discrimination based on criminal status during the background check process. These laws are designed to help people convicted of non-serious crimes re-enter the workforce. For guidance on background checks and any of the other steps in the hiring process, you should contact an experienced veterinary attorney. 

Accused of Employment Discrimination During the Hiring Process? Contact Us Today.

Whether you are in the process of starting a new veterinary practice or plan on expanding your existing practice through an acquisition, you must ensure that your hiring practices are compliant with all applicable equal employment opportunity laws. Failure to comply with these laws can result in lawsuits, regulatory enforcement actions, and lasting damage to the reputation of your veterinary practice. The best way to protect your practice and your livelihood is to engage the services of Mahan Law. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.