Do???s And Don???ts For Life Science Job Applications

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Do’s And Don’ts For Life Science Job Applications

November 17, 2014,

By Angela Rose for

If you’ve been working around the clock to fill life science positions at your organization, you’re not alone. Biotech and pharmaceutical jobs—ranging from entry-level positions such as process technician and clinical trial assistant to advanced opportunities like senior scientist and director of regulatory CMC strategy—are increasing. While the slower pace of the upcoming holiday season may offer a brief respite, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels. Now’s the time to review and revise your organization’s job application—removing any potentially discriminatory questions in particular. Consider the following do’s and don’ts.

1. Don’t ask about age or date of birth.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, signed into law in 1967, protects applicants who are 40 years of age or older. If your life science job application requests the candidate’s age, date of birth, or even graduation dates, it can give the impression that you’re consider this information when making hiring decisions.

Do: If you need to ensure your administrative assistants, clinical SAS programmers, or other recruits meet any federal or state minimum age for employment in a particular occupation, you can include a question on the application asking if the candidate is 18 years (or 21 years ) or older.

2. Don’t ask about gender, race, religion or national origin.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against job candidates based on their gender, race, religion, or national origin. Additionally, many states prohibit marital status discrimination. This means you cannot ask for maiden name, spouse’s name, or prior married name on the life science application. You should also avoid asking about the number or age of a candidate’s children, religion, citizenship, or race.

Do: You can request “other names” as this information may be necessary to conduct pre-employment screening. You can also ask if the candidate is available to work particular days and/or hours, and is legally able to work in the United States.

3. Don’t ask about health or disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law in 1990, protects individuals with disabilities (health, physical or mental) from employment discrimination. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, enacted in 2008, prohibits employers from discriminating against candidates based on their genetic information—including the medical histories of their family members. You should remove questions from your life science employment application that address the candidate’s health history, worker’s compensation claims, sick days used at other jobs, and whether they are collecting disability pay.

Do: If a particular position—for example clinical data manager or research associate—includes certain physical requirements (e.g. repetitive movements, standing for long periods), you can include a question on the life science application asking the applicant if he/she can fulfill those requirements with or without accommodation.

4. Don’t ask about arrests or criminal convictions.

Many job applications include a question about prior arrests or criminal convictions. However, numerous cities, counties, and states have passed laws prohibiting this. While federal law does not bar employers from requesting this information, the EEOC strongly cautions against using it to reject candidates unless you can prove that it has bearing upon the job in question. For example, while a past conviction for embezzlement could be a logical reason for not hiring a particular accounting manager, it should not lead to the immediate disqualification of a regulatory operations specialist.

Do: Criminal background checks are an important part of the pre-employment screening process—especially if you worry about negligent hiring lawsuits. However, stay on the good side of the EEOC and only run them after you’ve made a conditional offer of employment.

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