Employment laws become relevant long before you even hire an employee. In particular, discrimination laws may form a trap for the unwary would-be employer.

Help Wanted Advertisements
Danger lies even in seemingly innocuous help wanted ads. Employers must be careful not print or publish want ads or job notices indicating a preference for or limitations for prospective employees based on any legally protected status - race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and age under federal law, plus sexual preference under California state laws. Not only must you avoid advertisements for young men, pretty girls, and German-Americans (for some obvious examples); hazards lurk even in ads for "cocktail waitresses" or "doormen."

The careful employer is also concerned with where the job announcement will appear. Avoid publications or postings in publications targeting specific groups, or with sex-segregated listings.

Finally, it never hurts to include in any help wanted ad a statement that you are an "Equal Opportunity Employer."

Word-of-Mouth Recruiting
As a potential employer, you must also be concerned about the potentially discriminatory effects of word-of-mouth recruiting. If job opportunities are disseminated by current employees talking to family and friends, there is likelihood that such information will reach a disproportionate number of people of similar ethnicity, religion, etc., to current employees. Such practice is sure to perpetuate any past discrimination. Word of mouth can be an excellent recruiting resource, but should be supplemented with methods that will reach a diverse pool of potential applicants.

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