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Discrimination and Job Selection

Discriminatory Selection

It is unlawful to discriminate on grounds of age, sex , marital status, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability or race when selecting candidates for employment. Selection criteria and questions in application forms and interviews should not discriminate directly (eg. deliberately excluding persons of either sex, persons from an ethnic minority) or indirectly.

It is unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person in arrangements for determining who should be offered employment or by refusing to offer employment. It will not be discriminatory, however, to include a question in application forms as to whether the candidate is disabled. Further it may be necessary for an employer (in accordance with their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and Equality Act 2010) to make reasonable adjustments to facilitate a disabled person's attendance at an interview.

Indirect discrimination may arise from setting selection criteria or tests which favour, or put at a disadvantage, a particular age, sex, race etc. For instance, a useful yardstick is not to ask questions of a woman, young person or member of a particular ethnic group that you would not have otherwise asked.

Aggrieved applicants can seek compensation from employment tribunals. There are, however, limited specified exceptions known as genuine occupational requirements (GORs) under which an employer is justified in limiting that job to someone of a particular age, race, sex etc. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) publishes guidance which stipulates best practice in this area. It also has statutory powers to investigate and conduct inquiries and assessments into aspects of equality and human rights and make recommendations for change.

A trade union member or non-member refused employment or deterred from accepting the post on the grounds of such status may also complain to an Employment Tribunal within three months of the conduct, and compensation and other redress may be ordered.

As to ex-offenders, they have rights to refuse to answer questions about spent offences and such offences should not be taken into account in job selection. Positions for accountants, lawyers, medical professionals and teachers are excluded.

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