Unless you want to be named in a lawsuit that you may very likely lose, you should never hire or fire an employee without first understanding the law.

Equal employment is one of our most important legal concepts.   Federal, state and local laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion or ethical beliefs, gender, national origin, marital status, family status, disability, political opinion, employment status, and sexual orientation.  

The Civil Rights Act and a variety of other employment laws affect how you recruit, hire, and promote employees.   Job-relatedness is the one consistent theme in every law that affects recruiting and hiring.   A job-related decision is based on objective criteria that are directly linked to doing the work that needs to be done.  

Your employment applications and interviews should not request personal information that is not job related.   Unless there is a particular and necessary job-related reason, prospective employees should not be asked their age, birthplace, citizenship, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status or family status.   Prospective employees should also not be asked about their religious or organizational affiliations, or about any arrests; however, you may ask about any job-related felony convictions.

The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of a mental or physical disability and may require you to provide reasonable workplace accommodations to allow a disabled job candidate to perform the job.

These are some of the rules when hiring a new employee.   In Part 2 we will discuss what you need to do if it comes time to fire that employee.