Avoid These Hiring Mistakes (And What to Do Instead)

So, you are about to hire a new employee, or maybe it’s your first employee, but you’re worried about making a mistake that could land you in legal trouble. You are not alone, bringing on a new hire is always a big step. Hiring employees can be complicated and stressful. Here are some ideas on how you can prevent disputes related to a new hire.  

Check out our list of what TO do and what NOT TO do. 

  1. Check your state, city, and county laws regarding hiring practices, especially those that govern what you must disclose in your job postings.  
  • For example, wage transparency laws are trending. In 2021, Colorado became the first state to impose a wage transparency law and several states have followed suit, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington now have similar laws. Some cities in New York and Ohio have also adopted wage transparency laws. Expect this trend to continue. 
  1. Prepare yourself and others who will conduct the interviews.  
  • Asking questions that are too personal or inappropriate could potentially lead to discrimination claims, even if it just seems like friendly chit chat. For example, questions focusing on a person’s religion, parenting duties, age, disability or race should not be raised by the interviewer.
  • You may ask a candidate if they can perform the job’s essential functions, but you may NOT ask if they have a disability or major medical problems. You may ask an applicant if they are eligible to work in the United States but you should not inquire into their citizenship, their place of birth or where they got acquired an accent. 
  1. Consider requiring an employment agreement that covers the basics.  
  • Non-disclosure, non-compete, and non-solicitation agreements are great ways to protect the employer. Such agreements can be valuable in minimizing harm to the employer if an employee decides to seek financial gain elsewhere by utilizing all the great training and confidential information you provided.
  • It is important to note that an overly restrictive agreement could lead to disappointment for an employer if a court determines the restrictions are unenforceable. Taking the extra step of getting legal help in drafting these agreements can save time and headaches on the back end. 
  1. Make sure your hiring policies are compliant and those involved in the hiring process and decision making have been adequately trained.  
  • For example, while pre-employment drug screening is allowed by most states certain states may have specific notice rules you must follow, and others may have different rules for testing of current employees. There are also laws that employers must be aware of before engaging in background checks of potential employees. Even if not required by law, it is best to be transparent with potential employees about what you intend to check up on and how you will use that information.
  • The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) prohibits treating applicants differently based on protected status such as race, national origin, color, sex, religion, genetic information, disability, or age. 
Avoid These Hiring Mistakes (And What to Do Instead)

Here is a list of things that you should avoid. 

  1. Skipping reference checks. Like it or not, some people lie to get what they want and that includes on their resumes and applications. Do not skip this crucial part of hiring. It is far easier to check references and potentially increase your confidence in your potential hire than to agonize over your decision when you find out you could have avoided problems if you had just asked the right questions. 
  1. Failing to write a detailed job description. You really want to give as much information as you can up front. This will let the great candidates shine through, as well as not waste anyone’s time. It also provides a good record of job duties, expectations, and essential functions of the job. This documentation can come in handy in the event of disputes that arise later. 
  1. Rushing the hiring process. Again, we all want this to be as painless and as fast as possible but no good can come from simply rushing your way through hiring an employee. We promise you. Create a schedule for yourself with when you want someone to start working, backtracking to when they should be hired, interviewed and when you should start the process. Keep in mind most employees will want to give two weeks’ notice to their current employers.  
  1. Refusing to use technology. If you want to get your job posting in front of the eyes of as many people as possible, technology is a must! Keeping it old school and relying on word of mouth might be more comfortable for some, but you will cast a much wider net by using reputable job posting sites. In addition to posting the job on several online services, share the posting with your professional network. 

Remember to be specific with your needs, ask for referrals and really listen while interviewing your potential hire. 

Keep in mind asking the wrong questions could lead to discrimination issues. Hiring a lawyer to help with the whole hiring process can protect you from start to finish. Give us call! 

You might like: Why Insurance Planning Plays a Key Role in Risk Management  


Every effort is made to provide accurate, complete, and current information in Milestone Law Group’s blog.  However, Milestone cannot guarantee that there will be no errors. In addition, note that articles are current as of the date of original publication and therefore may no longer reflect the current state of the law.   

The information in our blog is shared for informational purposes, not to provide specific legal advice. Receipt of this material does not establish an attorney client relationship. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. Please contact us if you have any questions. 

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