It’s always nice to hear from readers. One woman, who works for a dermatologist, read my article on Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications. Here’s the issue: You can discriminate against someone if their condition makes it impossible or unsafe for them to do the job for which they are applying. No obese flight attendants. No pilots over 60 being the captain of a commercial flight. But what about not hiring someone with bad teeth to work Reception at a dentist’s office or, as in the case of the woman who contacted me after reading my article, someone who is sunburned wanting to work for a dermatologist?
I believe that it is an employer’s right to determine their company’s corporate image. If you won’t hire anyone with tattoos, no problem. If you only refuse to hire Hispanics with tattoos, problem. Same for requiring good teeth for the dentist and good skin (or at least not bad skin) for the dermatologist. But I’m not an attorney. This is my personal opinion. I do not give legal advice. If I did, I could get into a lot of trouble. As I like to say on occasion, I’m crazy, not stupid. And it would be stupid for me to play lawyer.
So why did my reader contact me? She was interviewing a candidate for a position at her office. The candidate had a sunburn. She told the candidate that she had a problem with her skin being sunburned. Sounds logical. Over exposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer. It’s a dermatologist’s office after all! But, the woman is a minority. She left, went home, and filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the dermatologist based on race and skin color.
There are minorities working for the dermatologist. Clearly, they do not discriminate based on race or color. And they decided not to fill the position.
Here’s the rub: All of that may be irrelevant. I don’t know. But what I do know is that all of this could have been easily avoided. There is no law that requires an employer to tell a candidate why they don’t want to hire them. If you don’t want someone all you have to say is, “Thank you very much. I’ve enjoyed meeting you. We are in the process of interviewing candidates. We’ll be in touch.” (I write about discrimination in my book, A Hooker’s Guide to Getting a Job: Parables from the Real World of Career Counseling and Executive Recruiting.) If you have a specific reason why you don’t want to hire a person, I’m willing to offer this piece of advice: SHUT UP!
If you don’t, I can recommend a good attorney…