Are you aware of the issue of indirect discrimination in recruitment practices? In January 2012, the Northern Ireland Industrial Tribunal found in favour of a mum who had been discriminated against by not being shortlisted for a post because she did not have the required experience.
Although it's a decision from a different jurisdiction, it is a useful reminder that if organisations have strict experience requirements in place when it comes to shortlisting candidates, they should be mindful of indirect sex discrimination claims.
- Mrs Crilly applied for a 6 month fixed-term post of neighbourhood regeneration officer with a charity.
- The shortlisting requirements included a specific qualification in a relevant discipline and 2 years relevant paid experience in a community development capacity gained within the last 5 years.
- She was not shortlisted as she did not have paid experience in the previous 5 years. She had been on a 6-year break from paid work due to her childcare responsibilities. However, during this time, she had voluntary experience in community development and neighbourhood regeneration.
- She claimed it was indirect sex discrimination to restrict shortlisting to candidates who had 2 years? paid experience in the previous 5 years because this requirement had a disproportionate adverse impact on women and put her at a disadvantage.
- The Tribunal found that the 5-year requirement was indirectly discriminatory. She was unable to proceed to the interview stage to outline how her recent voluntary and other community activities made her a suitable candidate for the job.
The employer argued that it needed to have someone in the job who could:
- perform with minimal supervision; and
- do the job without extensive training.
The Tribunal disagreed. The employer had a 2-month induction period that would have allowed Mrs Crilly to be brought up to speed with any new policies or action plans in the urban regeneration field with which she was not familiar.
The Tribunal awarded her £14,677, which included £5,000 for injury to feelings.
Although having strict shortlisting requirements can be useful, especially where there are a large number of applications, in order to avoid discrimination claims organisations must ensure their policies don't discriminate against women because of childcare commitments.
If you would like to discuss your recruitment practices or would like advice on any aspect of employment law, please get in touch with our team.