III. Legal Issues & the Search Process
These are guidelines only and are not meant to constitute legal advice, which can only be rendered when related to specific factual situations. For legal advice, please contact the Office of the General Counsel of the University.
- Be knowledgeable about the University’s Policy on Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Non-Discrimination (see Appendix 9) and how University policy and legal requirements apply to the search and selection process, including the recruitment of diverse candidates, including minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities. Understand how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) affects the search and selection process. Ensure that all portions of the application and interview process are accessible to persons with disabilities, and that the committee is prepared to address the issue of accommodations should that be necessary.
- Job-related criteria for the advertised position should be developed and approved at the outset of the search. Relative weights of criteria should be developed and assigned prior to the review of any application. Fluctuation in the application of weighted criteria may lead to allegations of manipulation and may indeed indicate manipulation to select a particular candidate. Objective criteria are less susceptible to legal challenge.
- AcademicJobsOnline records candidate evaluation information as input by the search committee, and records job-related reasons to advance or eliminate candidates from the search process and to provide rationale in the event of a charge of discrimination. Inappropriate or judgmental comments about a candidate’s appearance, personality, etc. should not be included.
- All members of the search committee should actively participate in the screening process to avoid having any one person eliminate a candidate.
- Interview questions designed to provide fair and objective evaluation of each candidate should be developed in advance of committee interviews with candidates. A set of identical questions should be asked of all candidates. All candidates should be asked the same questions.
- Telephone contacts with candidates should be limited to standard questions agreed upon in advance. Notes of responses should be made for subsequent committee use.
- Avoid gratuitous comments made to the candidates that might indicate bias or be viewed as a discriminatory statement (such as, “we’re looking for young blood”)
- If a charge of discrimination is filed, investigating agencies will have access to search committee records.