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October 07, 2008
Applicant Brings Parents to the Interview: What Do You Do?

By Bob Brady, BLR Founder and CEO

If someone brings his or her parents to the job interview, what should you do? "Take it as a sign (a negative one)," advises Bryan D. LeMoine, an attorney with Polsinelli Shalton Flanigan Suelthaus PC, St Louis, MO.

Speaking at BLR's Illinois Employment Law Update (October 1-3, 2008), LeMoine was asked the question by one of the attendees. He said that there is nothing in federal or state law that in any way would protect an applicant's right to bring someone to a job interview. Another audience member said someone had brought along her husband, prompting her to ask, "Do I get both of you for the price of one?"

In a more serious vein, LeMoine said there could even be concerns about having inappropriate people in the workplace. "You don't know anything about parents, or spouses, or anybody else that an applicant brings along. At least you have the resume or application of the applicant," he said. Employers are totally within their rights in restricting who comes onto the premises, let alone into the interview.

Hiring, Soup to Nuts

Attorney LeMoine was joined by his colleague, Elizabeth T. Gross, Esq., presenting a workshop, "Hiring, Soup to Nuts." Some other highlights:

  • Biggest risk is outside HR. Most HR managers understand what they may and may not ask in job interviews, but the hiring managers have far less knowledge. A big part of HR's job has to be to provide training and management.
  • Job-relatedness key in sensitive areas. There are sensitive areas in hiring, such as arrest and conviction records. The key is job relatedness. For example, fraud would be important for a bank teller, but vehicular homicide might not be. A bank can ask about the former, but should steer clear of the latter.
  • Accommodation isn't changing job duties. LeMoine and Gross talked about a case their firm is handling regarding an employee suffering from ALS. The employer got in trouble when it "accommodated" by removing some job duties. The employee is arguing they should have helped her do the job.
  • ADA amendments are significant. The ADA amendments of 2008, which take effect January 1, 2009, will change many of the rules.
  • Interview questions should be appropriate. Inappropriate interview questions continue to trip up employers. LeMoine and Gross advised HR managers to prepare written scripts for their interviews for any high-risk questions that are truly job related--and to educate their people on avoiding those that are not job related. For example, place and length of residence may be job related. Questions about birthplace, naturalization, baptismal certificate, etc. are not.
  • Don't write notes on resumes or application forms. Many interviewers take notes on their copies of resumes or application forms, which are then discarded. Their absence could lead to a negative inference.

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