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Understanding Prohibited Personnel Practices

Most employers have the best of intentions, though they may unwittingly run afoul of certain employment laws at some point. Others, however, may deliberately resort to unethical or inappropriate practices to help weed out the job applicants and employees that they do not wish to hire or engage with. In this post, we’ll discuss prohibited personnel practices and help you understand your rights. If you believe you have been a victim of any of these types of treatment, you may have a case for compensation.

Inappropriate Pre-Employment Questions

When interviewing potential applicants, some employers press too far in terms of the questions they ask and the information they seek. There are both state and federal laws that govern the ability to ask for characteristics such as race, national origin, gender and disability. Yet some employers still continue to ask questions that are not strictly lawful, which may give them the information they need to discriminate. It is important to keep in mind that asking these questions is not strictly illegal. These can be viewed as prohibited personnel practices and taken as proof of discriminatory intent.

Some characteristics may be discussed, but only up to a point, with anything more being considered inappropriate and possibly discriminatory. For example, a prospective employer may not ask specific questions about the nature of an applicant’s disability, though they may be able to ask about potential reasonable accommodations as a way to plan ahead. There is a very clear dividing line. Only after an offer of employment has been made and accepted could an employer, for example, request a person to undergo a medical exam or ask for more information about the person’s specific disability.

Constructive Discharge & Forcing People To Resign

Sometimes, if an employer wishes to get rid of an employee but cannot find a plausible justification to do so, they may simply try to make the work environment so intolerable that no reasonable person would continue to work there. This is called constructive discharge (CD). CD occurs when a person is deliberately made to feel unsafe and uncomfortable or rendered totally unable to perform their duties, feeling that they have no other option but to quit their job. However, if it can be shown that the work environment was deliberately made hostile enough to overcome the employee’s interest in remaining on the job, then the resignation cannot really be called voluntary.

This type of behavior falls under prohibited personnel practices and is considered discriminatory by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In many instances, it is considered discriminatory by the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) as well. Employment in South Carolina is generally on an at-will basis, but there are exceptions to that rule if public policy is affected. It is very plausible to allege that constructive dismissal or discharge violates public policy, though it will not uniformly hold to be so.

Ask An Attorney For Help

Employers generally act in their own best interests, which means that if for no other reason than self-preservation, they will generally act appropriately. But if you have experienced any of the prohibited personnel practices discussed above, it is generally a good idea to consult a lawyer. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is well versed in these types of cases and is happy to help you with yours.

Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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