Employment Discrimination in the Hiring Process

Although veterinary owners are aware that employment discrimination is illegal, it is also crucial to avoid discrimination in the hiring process. In short, hiring practices must adhere to local, state and federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as rules promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

The best way to protect your veterinary practice from a potential discrimination claim by a job candidate is to consult Mahan Law. As the owner of a veterinary hospital, founding attorney Anthony Mahan is well-versed in the applicable employment discrimination laws, including:

Through a network of co-counsel attorneys, Mahan Law advises veterinary owners throughout the nation on their legal obligations during the hiring process. Our legal team has a working knowledge of the relevant local and state laws governing veterinary hiring practices. When you consult with us, we will work proactively with you to establish policies and procedures to protect your veterinary practice from litigation. If you are facing an employment-related lawsuit, our trial lawyers will choose the best line of defense. Above all, our strategic representation will enable you to do what you do best: practice veterinary medicine.

How Equal Employment Opportunity Laws Protect Job Candidates

Veterinary practices are prohibited from discriminating against prospective employees based on a wide range of federally protected characteristics, including:

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

Additionally, many local and state laws provide greater protections based on characteristics such as sexual orientation and gender identity. In sum, employment discrimination laws apply to every phase of the hiring process.

Discrimination When Advertising a Veterinary Job

Veterinary practices must ensure that job advertisements (e.g. newspaper, online, social media) and job descriptions adhere to all applicable equal employment opportunity laws. In particular,  job advertisements cannot indicate preferences for specific qualities.

As an example, it is permissible to require a set amount of experience, but limiting a job position to recent college graduates or using verbiage such as "high-energy" may be considered age discrimination. Similarly, seeking a female for a veterinarian assistant position may constitute gender discrimination against men, while posting a job for English speakers only may be viewed as discrimination based on national origin, unless such as requirement is essential for the job duties (e.g. working at a front desk).

If you are in the process of hiring for your veterinary practice and intend to place job advertisements in a print or digital format, our veterinary attorneys will review the language to ensure the ads comply with applicable employment discrimination laws. Finally, including a statement in your job ads to the effect that your practice is an equal opportunity employer that encourages a diverse workplace and considers candidates without regard to any protected characteristic can help to ensure compliance with applicable employment discrimination laws.

Veterinary Job Interviews and Employment Discrimination

For veterinary practice, it is crucial to ensure that hiring practices when interviewing a job candidate, whether one-on-one or in a group format, comply with equal employment opportunity laws. Obviously, you cannot ask a potential employee specific questions related to protected characteristics (e.g. sex, race, gender, age, disability status, pregnancy, etc.). Examples of questions that could be construed as discriminatory include:

  • When did you graduate from high school/college? (age discrimination)
  • Are you planning on having children? (pregnancy discrimination)
  • Are you married? (marital status discrimination)
  • Where were you born?  (national origin discrimination)
  • Will you be wearing that hijab/yarmulke in the office? (religious discrimination)
  • How do you feel about reporting to a younger man/woman? (age, gender discrimination)

Ultimately, a job interview should be geared toward verifying that a potential employee has the skill set for the veterinary position and that he or she will be a good fit for your practice. In making that determination, veterinary practices must proceed with caution to avoid violating employment discrimination laws. If you are facing a discrimination lawsuit because of your hiring practices, Mahan Law will provide you with informed representation when you need it most. 

Veterinary Practice Background Checks

Veterinary owners must also be aware that many state and local governments have laws to protect job applicants from discrimination based on criminal history status. These so-called "Ban the Box" laws are designed to help low-level offenders re-enter the workforce. It is critically important to consult with a veterinary attorney who is knowledgeable in the applicable laws and up-to-date with other criminal justice reforms applicable to the hiring process. 

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

Whether you are starting a new veterinary practice or expanding your existing practice through an acquisition, it is crucial to ensure that your hiring practices are in compliance with applicable equal employment opportunity laws. Violations of these rules can result in lawsuits, regulatory enforcement actions by the EEOC and local and state authorities, as well as 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.