Employer Question: Did I Discriminate Against The “Angel of Death?”

Some firms still hire by soliciting resumes. A question that has come up deals with a situation where the e-mail address from the applicant conveys something about the applicant that appears fundamentally incompatible with the job. For example, a firm that provides elder care received a resume from an e-mail address that included the term, “Angel of Death” in the e-mail address. Since the firm services a vulnerable population, they were naturally concerned that a person that chooses such an e-mail address may not be suitable.

Another recruiter tells the story of hiring for a professional firm, and receiving an e-mail that appeared to have come from an explicit adult type e-mail address. The recruiter felt that such a person may exhibit behavior or judgment that could damage the company’s reputation, hurt business interests or be inconsistent with business needs.

In both cases however, the recruiters were concerned whether they had crossed a line by not even considering those resumes.

First, it is strongly suggested by many HR professionals that firms should not accept or solicit e-mail resumes. A firm avoids many difficulties if it only accepts applications. (A future newsletter will discuss why applications are a better alternative then resumes.)

In both cases, it is noteworthy that the two e-mail addresses in no way suggested that the applicant was a member of a protected class, or they were being eliminated based upon facts such as ethnicity, race, religion, sex, marital status, physical disability or other similar categories. Nor did the e-mail address suggest they were being discriminated against on the basis of protected off-duty conduct.

Perhaps the real lesson is that applicants sometimes can show very poor judgment in the hiring process. After all, how difficult would it have been for the applicant to take two minutes and get a professional sounding e-mail address from Yahoo, Hotmail or numerous other services?

If you have had a similar experience, have a different opinion or have a question to ask about background checks and safe hiring, please e-mail Jared Callahan at jcallahan@esrcheck.com.