Who makes the best nurses –men or women? How about Asian-Americans? African-Americans? For most people, just asking the question is offensive because the best nurses are those who are well-qualified, compassionate and love what they do – and that has nothing to do with gender, race or nationality. While that shouldn’t have to be said, somebody needs to explain it to staffing agency Interim Healthcare, a national healthcare franchise company which has come under fire for a help wanted ad banning Haitians for applying for a nursing position.
Interim HealthCare posted the ad in a New City Pennysaver asking for a “laid back nurse” for the position of a “Female LPN/RN” and stated that not only should applicants have a NYS certificate, Haitians should not apply. While local politicians and the NY state Attorney General have promised to launch an EEOC investigation, the Florida-based healthcare company took to Facebook to apologize. According to CBS, President Katherine McNally called the ad “totally unacceptable” and “offensive” and of course promises to make sure it never happens again. They also blamed the incident on a franchisee.
While it may be difficult for a company to control what its franchisees do, and Interim has over 500 of them around the world, all of the franchises will likely suffer a financial hit. Twitter was abuzz with healthcare companies who vowed to never hire from the company again. While it may have made Entrepreneur’s top 500 franchise list for 2015, it may not rank as highly in the future if its franchises keep this up.
Ads like the Interim Healthcare posted are illegal because it violates states and federal laws. In fact, the EEOC is pretty clear – “It is illegal for an employer to publish a job advertisement that shows a preference for or discourages someone from applying for a job because of his or her race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.’
Some general tips to avoid discriminatory practices in help wanted ads include:
- Never mention a protected class in an advertisement. Avoid referring to preference based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. In addition, remember that sexual orientation is protected in a number of states and local municipalities.
- Proclaim that you do not discriminate and add a tagline in any help-wanted ad that you’re an “Equal Opportunity Employer.”
- Limit gender-specific language, even if it is commonly used. For example, servers are routinely called waitresses and flight attendants are often called stewardesses, but the language is gender specific. Gender-specific language may be in violation of employment discrimination laws.
- Avoid encouraging “recent college grads” to apply. Even if your intent is to encourage those without experience, it may look as though you don’t want to hire anyone over 40 and the EEOC frowns on age discrimination in hiring practices. Instead of referring to a specific number of years of experience you are looking for, list the skills the position requires.
Disgruntled applicants not hired for positions have filed EEOC claims and filed civil suits based on discriminatory help-wanted ads. Protect yourself and your company’s finances and reputation by placing only the highest quality ads that can stand the test of national scrutiny.