Q: is it discrimination to hire mainly former student athletes?
I am starting up a business selling to college and high school sports teams and programs. As a former athlete, I would like to mainly hire former student athletes as I know their competitive drive, and know their work ethic, and their connections in the sports world. As long as I am not discriminating based on age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Is there any legal problems with mainly recruiting former athletes to work with my company?
A: You should not run into many problems if you become an equal opportunity employer. You can focus on a particular demographic if it is based on the requirements of the work, the skills necessary for the job, etc. as long as they are generally non-discriminatory. Protected categories include the following:
Ancestry, national origin
Age (40 and over)
Disability, mental and physical
Sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or related medical conditions)
Gender identity, gender expression
Military or veteran status.
As long as you don't discriminate on the basis of any of the above listed categories, you should do well.
Good luck in your efforts.
A: It sounds to me like you could be discriminating against the physically disabled, who would not qualify as former athletes. This could be a problem without a connection between athleticism and the job requirements. The fact that you perceive former athletes as universally having certain attributes shows an inherent bias (one you do not even know that you have). We all have biases like Chocolate over Vanilla Ice Cream, but when it comes to hiring, your biases can get you into trouble. Clearly, if you replaced the words "former student athletes" with "men" or "american citizens" or "people under 35" or "single Asian women" you would be afoul of the law that Mr. Fazzi quotes. I am not so sure that your category does not discriminate by excluding people who could not be "former student athletes."
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A: As long as you make room for disabled student athletes, you should be fine. Keep in mind that having a disability places potential employees into a protected class of people. If you exclude all person's with disabilities from consideration for employment, you will run afoul of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Good luck to you.
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