The majority of hiring lawsuits are filed based on one of these two circumstances: either an employer relied on information that was not legal in making the hiring decision, or the employer intentionally misled an applicant (e.g., misrepresenting the salary or promising employment for a set period of time). Former employers can also be sued if they illegally hinder a past employee’s job search.
Improper Hiring Criteria
Employers are legally prohibited from considering a number of factors when making a hiring decision. These can include the following:
Discrimination — There are federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), disability, age, citizenship status, and genetic information. Oklahoma law makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability.
Criminal record — State law determines whether or not you can be asked about a criminal record. In Oklahoma, employers may request criminal history records for prospective employees but cannot request sealed or expunged arrest records. Employers are also prohibited from asking applicants about information in sealed or expunged arrest or criminal records. An applicant cannot be disqualified for refusing to disclose this information. In 2016, Oklahoma instituted a Ban the Box law for state agency jobs that removes questions about prior felony convictions on employment applications.
Credit history — Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Oklahoma employers must provide written notice to job applicants prior to requesting a consumer report. The employer must also tell the applicant that a consumer report will be used in the hiring process, and provide the applicant with a free copy of his or her credit report if requested. Employers may reject applicants that refuse to submit to a credit check.
Workers’ compensation claims — Generally, employers are prohibited from refusing to hire someone based on prior workers’ compensation claims.
Claims Against a Past Employer
Under certain circumstances, an applicant who has been rejected from a new job may have a claim against a former employer for preventing the applicant from being hired. Claims like these are generally based on:
Retaliation — a claim based on retaliation may be possible if a former employer misrepresents the reasons why an employee was fired or disparages that employee to potential employers.
Defamation — if a former employer makes a false statement that damages your reputation or prevents you from being hired for a new job, a defamation claim may be possible.
Blacklisting — employers are prohibited from attempting to “blacklist” a former employee by making threats or false statements.
The attorneys at Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C., are committed to helping workers in Oklahoma protect their workplace rights. Let us hold your employer accountable for violating your rights. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.