Can job applicants claim discrimination?

Many employers tell us that they find recruitment processes a minefield when it comes to avoiding discrimination.

There are the restrictions on asking health questions before a job offer has been made being unlawful (except in limited circumstances); the need for careful consideration of the wording of job adverts to ensure they are not interpreted as discriminatory, and the requirement to make sure “arrangements” for deciding to whom to offer employment (e.g. the format and content of application forms; the physical arrangements, location and timing of interviews; and the job and person specifications) are not discriminatory.

However, a recent European Court ruling that a job applicant was not discriminated against will be a welcome relief.

The applicant was unsuccessful in applying for a trainee position for a graduate. He sent the company a written complaint demanding €14,000 in compensation for age discrimination. The company invited him for an interview saying the rejection of his application was sent in error, having been automatically generated. He refused to attend the interview until the company had paid the compensation he sought and brought a claim for age discrimination and sex discrimination (after finding out females had been appointed to all of the roles).

The Court decided that as a job applicant he was not able to claim compensation and that vexatious applicants are not covered by discrimination law.

This is a pleasing decision for employers, and will act as a deterrent against speculative applicants from individuals who are only motivated by compensation and not genuinely interested in employment.

If you would like to discuss your recruitment processes and any steps to take to make sure your organisation doesn’t fall foul of discrimination law, please contact Eagle HR on 0808 168 5780.