Below is a list of the top 10 mistakes found in company applications:

  1. Disability-related or medical questions.
    Employers should not require any questions related to any disability or a medical condition.

  2. At-will disclaimer.
    Having an at-will disclaimer is helpful to avoid any claim that the application is an offer of guaranteed employment.

  3. Nondiscrimination statement.
    Employers may want to inform applicants that the company is an equal opportunity employer (i.e., through an EEO statement) and does not discriminate in hiring based on federally-protected classifications (i.e., race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex, disability, veteran status, age [40 or over], or genetic information).

  4. Requesting graduation dates.
    Asking applicants for graduation dates (usually in the education section of the employment application where it inquires about degrees obtained) may lead to a finding of discriminatory intent on the basis of age under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) or state law.

  5. Arrests and convictions.
    A number of states and local jurisdictions expressly prohibit employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories on employment applications (these are called “ban the box” laws). Employers may want to use caution in this area.

  6. Background checks.
    Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the disclosure of an employer’s intent to obtain a background check and section must be in a “stand-alone” document separate from the application.

  7. Applicants requesting a reasonable accommodation.
    The American’s with Disability Act imposes a duty on employers to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants during the application process to ensure equal access to available positions.

  8. Photographs.
    If needed for identification purposes, an employer may obtain a photograph of an applicant after the applicant accepts an offer of employment.

  9. Marital and/or familial status.
    Asking questions about an applicant’s marital status, the number of kids he or she has, the ages of his or her children or dependents, or provisions for childcare could be construed as discrimination on the basis of sex.

  10. Citizenship.
    The antidiscrimination provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits employers from discriminating against an applicant because he or she is not a U.S. citizen.

Reference: Cotner, J. (July 23, 2017) Ogletree Deakins Newsletter.