How to Hire New Employees for Your Medical Practice and Stay Compliant With Discrimination Laws
One thing not covered in medical school is how to run a medical practice. Solo and group practices are usually organized so that the owning physician(s) or their practice manager conduct employment interviews. From posting the open position until making an offer of employment, the road to successful hiring is littered with claims of discrimination. While federal law is uniform across all 50 states, and each state has their own anti-discrimination hiring and employment laws. This post will help guide you to keeping within federal law and offer general information that helps with navigating the varying requirements of the states’. For federal law, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) is responsible for enforcement.
The Job Posting
If you advertise an open position in the newspaper, on an internal bulletin board, or on a job board, the wording of it needs to be written in a manner that is clearly non-discriminatory. So, make sure there are no references to race, national origins, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, political affiliations, and more. Since none of the previously mentioned items has anything to do with how a person performs if hired, they are not only illegal but are unnecessary too. Other protections safeguarded by the EEOC include:
- Harassment stemming from any of the discriminatory practices
- Retaliation for filing a formal complaint about discriminatory practices or helping with an investigation about discriminatory hiring practices.
Following the written application and before the actual hiring interview, many medical practices conduct pre-employment screening. For example, if a person is applying for a billing position, a pre-employment screening may include a test about medical coding. If your medical practice chooses to use pre-employment screening tests be sure that the screening test:
- Does not discriminate or adversely affect a protected class
- Have unreasonably restrictive standards that are not job-relevant
- If you use a screening test provided by a third party, it is important that the publisher of the test can validate the test document.
The Employment Interview
The employment interview can be a minefield for inadvertent discriminatory practices. Questions should be crafted to elicit information about how the applicant will perform as an employee. If the job requires a person to be on call 24/7 state that information instead of asking questions like, are you devout and go to church on Sunday or do you pick up your kid after school?
In cases of religion and disability, the EEOC policies are clear and mandate that employers make reasonable accommodations for religious beliefs or an individual’s disabilities.
If you cannot ask a candidate a question during the interview process due to the question being discriminatory, chances are that trying to elicit the information during a reference inquiry is also illegal.
The Job Offer
Be sure that the pay you offer the applicant is based solely on the skills needed to perform the job and the responsibilities the new hire will have. In union companies, pay is usually calculated on seniority – though sometimes productivity or a combination of productivity and seniority are also used to determine pay.
- Federal and state laws protect job applicants from discriminatory practices
- Posting and job advertisements must conform to non-discriminatory language
- Screening tests must be designed to evaluate an applicant’s ability related solely to the performance of the job
- Hired applicants must be paid in accordance with their skills and responsibilities