Discrimination Claims can Start at the Interview

discrimination at interview dental practiceAs I mentioned in a previous post, an Employment Practices claim can be made based on your initial hiring practices. Today’s post is all about eliminating discrimination in your dental practice from the application process to making a hiring decision.

Federal and State anti-discrimination laws are broad, including pre-employment job applications and hiring. You may be surprised how quickly a seemingly innocent question can make someone feel that they were discriminated against.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains why these new laws were put in place:

“Employment application forms and pre-employment interviews have traditionally been instruments for eliminating, at an early stage, ‘unsuited’ or ‘unqualified’ persons from consideration for employment and often have been used in such a way as to restrict or deny employment opportunities for women and members of minority groups.”

The Idaho Commission on Human Rights is a fantastic resource for this topic.  I will give you a quick overview here, but I highly recommend that you take a look at their site for even more information on how to not only protect yourself, but to avoid potential discrimination claims.


The rule of thumb that the ICHR gives is to ask yourself:

  • Does this question discriminate against a protected group?
  • Is the information provided by this question essential to the job?

During the interview process, it is normal to try to break the ice and get to know the candidate personally. You want to know if they will fit well with your team and if they will represent your practice in the appropriate way. Asking personal questions, though, can lead to a discrimination claim.

You will likely want to know if a candidate will stay with your practice for a reasonable length of time. Instead of trying to figure it out based on their answers to personal questions, such as their future plans for a family, simply ask them how long they intend to stay with you if hired.

One example I found that really struck me was about age discrimination. Here in Boise, it is common to discover that we have mutual friends after learning where they went to high school or college. However, asking someone when they graduated could make the candidate assume that they weren’t hired based on their age.

As you can see, certain questions can make people feel discriminated against even if you are truly interested in them and not trying to eliminate them from being hired based on age or future plans.

For more information, please refer to the Idaho Commission on Human Rights.

Eliminating Discrimination in Your Dental Practice

Eliminating Discrimination in Your Dental Practice

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.”

Types of harassment include:

  • Bullying
  • Pranks and jokes
  • Sexual harassment
  • Psychological intimidation
  • Verbal assaults
  • Harassment via electronic communications
  • Stalking

An anti-harassment policy is the best way to protect you and your staff from harassment. It is also important to make sure you staff is well trained on the subject.

The ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Office Manual includes a sample Harassment Policy, which you can customize for your practice.

The policy may include:

  • A statement of your intolerance of harassment, including any based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information
  • Definitions and examples of harassment
  • Protocol for employees to follow when they feel they have been harassed or they witnessed harassment
  • A statement of the procedure you will follow when harassment is reported

Creating a comfortable and safe workplace for your employees is imperative. Encourage them to talk with you or their supervisor about any issues. Your employees will be happy to come to work, you will have a great practice, and you will be actively working to avoid discrimination claims.

For more information on this topic and other employee guidelines, the ADA Practical Guide to Creating an Employee Office Manual is a great resource. The EEOC also has a list of best practices and other information that you will find useful when putting a Harassment Policy together.