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EOE Concerns w/ Electronic-only Job Application? 402

Posted by Cliff
from the paper-applications-should-still-be-an-option dept.
Khyber asks: "Jobs seem to be increasingly harder to find in the real world today, and even harder to obtain due to the increased proliferation of on-line-only or electronic-only job applications. I know this firsthand - as today I attempted to apply for a job at Kroger's, only to discover that I had to fill out one of these electronic applications in their 'Career Opportunities Kiosk.' The machine miserably failed to get past the second page of the multi-paged the application. I've asked the manager if there was a paper application to fill out (why do I need to know how to use a computer to stock shelves?) and he has told me that I -must- fill out the application on their broken and defunct Dell Genesis Terminal. Are there legal concerns that I should be looking at, here?"
"Kroger's claims to be an EOE employer, however I feel that I am being denied my equal opportunity to gain employment due to the failings of a broken piece of software and hardware, and the refusal by the manager to give me a paper application to fill out, as an alternative. Can this be considered discriminatory to those of a lower education level in their attempt to obtain a job, as well? Are there any laws on the books that give me the opportunity to fill out the application on paper as opposed to digitally?"
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EOE Concerns w/ Electronic-only Job Application?

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  • With all the regs out there now about privacy (Sarbanes, etc.) I'm betting that is what this is about, in addition to most companies using HR systems to do their work. Paper apps would take time to enter, and that costs money.
    • by R2.0 (532027) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @05:33PM (#15168674)
      Everone so far is missing the point - companies use computer applications BECAUSE of EEO.

      If there is a person taking an application, that person can always be accused of bias. Theoretically, a machine doesn't CARE the race/gender/whatever of the applicant. It doesn't know what that info is, and if it does ask (for EEO reporting purposes)sure as shit the code has been audited/certified by the vendor supplying it.

      Their machine was broken. Take it at face value. Believe it or not, you don't have a right to be given a job - only the right not to be denied a job based on certain characteristics. Being a litigious jerk is not one of them.
      • have you ever filled out one of the online only applications before?

        I've filled out 5 of them so far (and not one has even contacted me and two of the places have big ass "NOW HIRING!" signs right where you sign up and in front of the store) and in every instance they all had the same thing in common, they asked what race & gender I was.

        Now the computer might not care what skin color or biological organs you are & might have but the machine doesn't determine if you get the job or not, a human
  • by SpaceAdmiral (869318) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:24PM (#15168032) Homepage
    discriminatory to those of a lower education level in their attempt to obtain a job

    Um . . . I wouldn't want to work for a company that didn't discriminate based on education level.
    • What about positions like shelf stocking? How much education does that need?

      I'd probably find it easier to fill out the online form though... An injury caused me to have reduced fine motor control, so I'd have real difficulty handwriting in tiny boxes.
    • Elitism is why it is so expensive to live in the western world.
      • The fact that we don't want to live in mud huts (or Soviet-style poverty) is why it is "so expensive" to live in the Western world. Communism attempted to equate everyone as equals. How well did THAT work out?

        And besides, expensive is relative - if you make more you can spend more - it's all about the ratio of income to expense.
    • You obviously never heard of the would-be cop who was turned down for the job because his I.Q. was too high [chrononhotonthologos.com].
  • by geoffspear (692508) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:24PM (#15168035) Homepage
    Let's see, you're asking for legal advice on Slashdot and the reason you need the advice is that you don't know how to use a computer? You're about 19 days too late.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:24PM (#15168036) Homepage
    "Can this be considered discriminatory to those of a lower education level in their attempt to obtain a job, as well?"

    "Equal opportunity employer" means they do not discriminate on the basis of legally protected traits (such as those protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [wikipedia.org] - race, color, religion, sex, or national origin). Education (or lack there) is *NOT* a protected characteristic. They are perfectly free to say that people who have below a certain level of education need not apply. (And the reverse is also true - I remember hearing about a police department in New Hamshipre that would not take applicants with above a 105 IQ, citing the high rate of burnout due to boredom)
    • by Loco3KGT (141999) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:32PM (#15168114)
      Legal precedents have determined that unless a job *requires* a certain level of education then it is illegal to discriminate based on it. I don't remember the case name, but it was early 1900s, involved a coal miner.
      • It's called disparate impact. If the higher level of education is not required, that by itself is not the problem. The problem is if in the applicant pool, more of a certain protected class of people don't meet that level of education. In most cases, what happens is that the white applicants do, for example, have a high school diploma... while blacks and Hispanics are more likely not to.

        However, it's progressively easier to claim that the education is required, as more and more jobs require employees to
    • I have a GED, and 10 years of UNIX systems administration experience. My education level has never been a problem with my ability to do my job, unless the HRC thinks it is.
    • "would not take applicants with above a 105 IQ"

      Actually *IQ* tests for employment are illegal.

      Aptitude tests and other exams that highly correlate towards IQ but is not the main output of the exam are, however, mostly legal.

      There are exceptions...for instance the afore mentioned aptitude test could be found illegal if it were proven that the employeer was in fact using it because of its high correlations to IQ and not because of what it claimed to measure.

      I design these sorts of tests for a living and we ha
    • OMFG! Please back this up! That is not significantly off the normal range.
    • I remember hearing about a police department in New Hamshipre that would not take applicants with above a 105 IQ, citing the high rate of burnout due to boredom

      I wonder how they came up with a dumb policy like that...
    • Education (or lack there) is *NOT* a protected characteristic. They are perfectly free to say that people who have below a certain level of education need not apply.

      Actually, using IQ and education level in hiring is [wikipedia.org] considered in violation of civil rights laws in some circumstances, if the requirements are not "reasonably related" to the job in question.
    • I remember hearing about a police department in New Hamshipre that would not take applicants with above a 105 IQ

      It's not necessarily limited to jobs that don't require a college degree. I know a guy who couldn't get a job as a software engineer until he took his doctorate off of his resumé.

    • I don't have a citation for you but there was a company that required prospective janitors to have a high school diploma. They got in trouble and had to stop. The government's reasoning was that the job didn't require a high school diploma, and while the business might have a right to demand irrelevant qualifications they didn't have the right to demand irrelevant qualifications that discriminted against minorities.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:25PM (#15168040)
    and he has told me that I -must- fill out the application on their broken and defunct Dell Genesis Terminal.

    Maybe, just maybe they want to discourage you from applying. Maybe they don't like your face and tell you to use the broken machine, in the hope that you'll just give up, and they reserve hand-written applications forms for applicants that look more "kosher" than you to them.

    I knew of an employer you used such tactics with applicants of black and arabic origins: he didn't want to be sued for racial discrimination, so he made sure non-white applicants had a really hard time applying.

    • There are tons of cases of this that ended up costing companies big money. The interview process must be the same for everyone... one company lost a considerable amount because one guy that had some issue (was either black, or had some other difference the person didn't like), and that person's interview was only 10 minutes, compared to the normal 45minute interview everyone else got.

      It is way to easy to prove that an artificial barrier is in place for certain types of people.

    • by funwithBSD (245349) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:53PM (#15168334)
      I tell you what, I got my first job because of one simple thing. I stuck it out in lobby while he kept me sitting around for 45 minutes.

      That was all he really wanted to know, did I want the job enough to jump some simple hoops? or was I a QUITTER?

      Pretty much the interview was for show, I had the job barring being a total moron in the short interview.

      You don't have a work history, neither did I at the time, so what do they judge you on?

      They judge you how much do you want the job. When you have provable value and skills you can complain about how they jerked you around.
      In the meantime, they saved themselves hiring a guy that gives up easy.

      In other words, you have choosen poorly. Now learn from it.

      Learning is not compulsory... niether is survival. -Deming

      • That was all he really wanted to know, did I want the job enough to jump some simple hoops? or was I a QUITTER?

        More like, did you want the job badly enough to let him fuck you around, or would you maintain your self-respect and walk out? Because obviously he wanted someone he could crap on that would smile about it if he kept you waiting for 45 minutes when there was no need for it.

        Employees are the most important resource in any company. You get more out of employees who like you and who have self-respect than you do from people who will take any kind of abuse you throw at them.

        If I were hiring people I'd like to give them the same test, but call them back after they walked out and went home and have them come back for the real interview. The people who were willing to sit around for ages either have no self-respect, or need the job too badly.

  • stop being a whiney bitch. If their terminal sucked, so what? You obviously have internet access to be posting your story to slashdot, and every public library has internet access, so you and the general public can apply online at Kroger's website.

    http://www.kroger.com/careers.htm [kroger.com]
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:25PM (#15168047)
    It's going to be hard to convince them you need any accomodations, when you're posting to Slashdot to ask for advice!
  • by monkeydo (173558)
    Why don't you call your local bar association and ask for a referral to an employement lawyer? You aren't going to get a satisfactory answer to your question here.
    • Re:WTF? (Score:3, Funny)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      Why don't you call your local bar association and ask for a referral to an employement lawyer?

      The bar association wouldn't give me a referral unless I filled out an electronic form specifying what kind of lawyer I wanted to talk to!
    • >>Why don't you call your local bar association and ask for a referral to an employement lawyer?

      Referral? Referral? They don't need no stinkin' referral. They got Slashdot! Home of Perfect Legal Advice. One million nerds can't be wrong!
  • to be able to fill out even a paper application. You have to be able to read and write. Adding basic mouse clicking and typing skills to the list seems pretty minor.
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:27PM (#15168072) Homepage
    I used to *hate* filling out gobs of paper applications - they'd inevitably have something like

    write your entire life history here -> [______]
    Do not omit significant details.

    in a little 1/2" square box.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:29PM (#15168082)
    You're saying you couldn't complete the application because the terminal was a piece of crap. How is this an Equal Opportunity violation? Are you saying that perhaps an Asian person (or, if you're Asian, suppose an African) might have better luck operating the machine? Your Equal Opportunity has been denied because people of your race, religion, color, or creed have an inherent disadvantage in operating this particular terminal?

    Everybody has an Equal Opportunity to operate this crappy machine. Honestly I have no idea what the hell you're going on about.

  • In real life stuff doesn't always work. Employers don't bend over backwards to make your job search as easy as possible. Maybe once you have gained some of this experience you won't be looking to stock shelves at Krogers. Until then, suck it up and solve your own problems, and don't look for society (laws) to solve your problems. We don't really give a rip.
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#15168093) Homepage
    If the machine is broken, then the device is equally rejecting all applicants. On the other hand, if it doesn't work for visually impaired people then you may have a claim.

    I'm not sure I understand your story: if the company's photocopier was broken and they couldn't give you a paper form, would you post to Slashdot about it being unequal? Or would you just wait until they fixed it? Did the manager refuse to fix the machine? Is the problem a broken machine or a bad design? If you are critiquing software, maybe a job at Krogers isn't for you. Alternatively, if you tried to be 31337 and broke the machine, then it is discriminating against hackers. :-)
  • by RingDev (879105) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:30PM (#15168099) Homepage Journal
    If the machine was broken, it was broken for everyone. Online applications is the norm at this point, and you'd have to have a really solid position to challenge the company in court. Maybe if you were blind and their online application was a non-standards compliant web page...

    Even then, do you really want to work for a company that you had to sue to get a job? Do you think they really want you on staff if they are forced to hire you on due to a lawsuit?

    And what the hell are you talking about it being hard to find a job? The nation wide unemployment rate is around 5%, there are a LOT of jobs out there. Likely even jobs that you are qualified for. But YOU have to find them.

    -Rick
    • I agree that this doesn't sound much like discrimination, unless as others have pointed out, the boss gives out paper apps to those he "likes" when the electronic terminal fails.

      However, I don't agree that you should just go away if you are discriminated against. Discrimination should be vigorously opposed. In the case of discriminatory hiring, sue (or do whatever it takes) to punish the person or company who's discriminating. You're not required to accept the job afterwards, but this is still not a poin
  • by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:32PM (#15168112) Homepage
    the dreaded ID10T error [/obvious]
  • by booch (4157) <slashdot2010@cra ... com minus distro> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:34PM (#15168142) Homepage
    Do you really think the broken computer is giving someone else an unfair advantage?

    It would seem that an online application would be preferable in terms of equal opportunity. The person reading the application wouldn't be able to easily determine your race from the electronic forms. And it could hide your name and other identifying information from the manager until he/she decided to interview you. I would also suspect that it would be easier to gather metrics using a digital medium, to ensure fairness.

    To answer your question more directly, I don't think there's anything illegal or unethical about their system, unless they're using it as a filter to only allow "acceptable" people to apply. (Which may very well be the case.) But EOE disclaimers only list things like race, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual preference, and disability. I don't think we'd want them to go further into things such as intelligence, people skills, personal hygiene -- things that might actually effect performance and teamwork.

    I also fail to understand why you'd ask for legal advice from a bunch of geeks. And why you read Slashdot, yet claim to be technically dis-inclined.
  • I have the same problem -- show up at an employers website, fill out hundreds of little checkboxes or dropdowns, only to never ever hear from that company. Did they receive your application? Did anyone read it? Were you even considered for the position in the first place? Sometimes you can't even call the company directly. I don't bother with those forms anymore. If my application isn't going to be read, why waste the time filling it out?
  • Usually these places have an application you can fill out at home, online if you have a computer which I'm assuming you do as you're reading this. Even if you don't, there are public computers.

    Back in the day I applied for a company on the kiosk and of course it crashed near the end. Not to mention you have to use their retarded key pad, etc.

    I asked the manager and he pointed me to the online version.

    Check the companies Website. You'll probably see a version online.
  • 1 - Request job at company X
    2 - Sue company X
    3 - Get hired by company X

    How the hell does this get through the editors?
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:38PM (#15168181)
    So their computer was broken. How is that different than you trying to apply, and finding out that "oh, the manager isn't here right now" or "gee, I can't find any blank applications" ? Companies do stupid things, they have bad processes, they run out of stuff.

    Think of it this way, everyone who tried to apply that day was fucked, so there's no discrimination.
    • By having a broken machine, Kroger gets no job applicants. That way they can lobby congress to let them hire more immigrants who will work for less because "no american will take the job".
  • by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:41PM (#15168216)
    If their system worked for some people and not others, you might stand a chance legally. If there was a reasonably obvious system to who it worked for and who it didn't, you'd probably stand a pretty good chance legally. As-is, however, it apparently just doesn't work for anybody -- and as long as it fails equally for everybody, chances are they're perfectly fine legally.

    My guess is that the manager in question simply isn't very woried about hiring anybody right now. If he was working 60+ hours a week to cover for a short staff, you can bet he'd make sure your application was accepted electronically, on paper, or in just about any other form short of scratched onto the wall of a cave...

    Of course, the obligatory disclaimer: IANAL, etc., so take it for what it's worth...


  • Criminy, every time I look at the computer it's "steve Jobs this, Steve Jobs that". Newspaper and TV too...

  • Good luck (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510)
    I'd like to see your claim that it's illegal of them to force you to use a computer stand in a court of law. First of all, the application must be designed so that it requires an IQ of 33 to operate (after all, you're applying for a shelf stocking job, right?). Second, you fscking obviously know how to use a computer, since you have a GMail address and submitted your whine to Slashdork. Third, if the machine is not working (and it's not disabled, as you said it can't get past page two) then that's tough coo
  • Cost (Score:3, Informative)

    by rossz (67331) <ogre&geekbiker,net> on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:45PM (#15168255) Homepage Journal
    I work for a company that does online and automated telephone hiring, so I have a small bit of experience in this area.

    Hiring costs are a big deal, especially for large companies. A crapload of stuff can be automated. For example, if there's a minimum age requirement, the application software can automatically ignore all the 17 year olds who applied for a bartending job instead of having some HR person manually go through a stack of applications to sort out the idiots who applied even though they couldn't legally qualify. Trimming down the applicants to those who meet the minimum job requirements can save lots of time and money.

    It's also easier to re-evaluate previous applicants when there are new job openings. Just because someone hired for one job doesn't mean you want to ignore them for future jobs. An automated system makes this possible. Paper applications are too much of a pain to review months later.

    Data retention is another big deal. I know in California you are required to retain applications for one year (might be a Federal law, not sure). It's a damn sight easier to keep the data in electronic form rather instead of a big ass filing cabinet filled with thousands of applications you will never look at (nothing says you have to look at the applications, just retain them).
  • by Tenareth (17013) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:50PM (#15168307) Homepage
    If the first page asked your race, and if you picked Black, Indian, or Chinese the next page gave an error, but if you picked Caucasian or Latino it worked fine.

    Otherwise... it isn't discrimination, they just have a broken Kiosk.

  • Your opportunity (Score:2, Informative)

    by whargoul (932206)
    I don't see any problems here. Your opportunity is as equal as the next guy who tries to use that broken down machine. Besides, I believe EOE is in regards to race, religion, sex, etc... How the perspective employer receives your application is up to them.
  • Many people on unemployment have to meet a quota of job applications in order to qualify for compensation. This leads many people to apply for jobs without real interest in these jobs.

    Other times there are many more applicants than would be expected for jobs. Factors like these lead to having very many applications for a limited number of jobs.

    Even if the company's investment in human time was just a few minutes per applicant, it is a significant manount of time in total.

    Rather than spead a human's time o
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @04:58PM (#15168380) Journal
    Okay, so there seem to be endless stories here on /. about people not being able to find employment, and bemoaning the fact that none of their (apparently super-qualified) friends can find jobs either.

    Where are these people when we (in the business community) put up ads for employment?

    Most of the business owners I know (yes, we all know one another...that's what those silly clubs like Kiwanis and Rotary is all about) can't seem to find an employee that's worth jack shit, when they can even find people at all.

    Is there some cosmic disconnect? Nobody can find employees, and none of the unemployed can find jobs. I don't get it.
  • No, you do not have an EEOC case.

    To put things in perspective, the EEOC itself is moving to online claims filing.

    As far as Kroger's is concerned, there is an online version of the form, which you should be able to get at, if you are able to post on Slashdot.

    In the online form, it clearly states:

    Foods Co will provide reasonable accommodation as necessary in the application process upon request consistent with applicable law.

    By proceeding you are indicating that you have carefully read and understan

  • Kodak used to have groups that would travel and interview. Suddenly new HR people come in and we're ONLY accepting resumes from electronic submissions.

    Fighting it was difficult- we could not legally (their words, IANAL) email a candidate we liked to ask him to submit his/her resume. We had to simply tell them that we could interview them but nothing would come of it unless they submitted an application online.

    Why? Because now we can be 'tracked' for government purposes. We would be 'complying' with the
  • ...Unless you're in a protected group, EEO doesn't apply to you.

    You can forget it unless you are:

    - A racial minority
    - A woman
    - Physically disabled
    or
    - Mentally disabled

    Also, you should be aware that most retail and grocery "shelf-stocking" positions aren't in the stores themselves, but through the vendors that make/distribute the products. Our company serves retail stores and has hundreds of "field merchandisers" whose job it is to go into stores and move our product from the loading dock area to the sales
  • stocking shelves (Score:3, Informative)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @05:03PM (#15168420)
    why do I need to know how to use a computer to stock shelves?

    Inventory control and RFID, to name a couple of reasons

  • by copponex (13876) on Thursday April 20, 2006 @05:04PM (#15168429) Homepage
    Everyone I know who says that they can't find a job are doing the same thing: faxing or e-mailing a resume, possibly submitting something online, and then waiting. Let me tell you something as an employer, sending your resume in the mail doesn't tell me you want the job. Following up with phone calls, in-the-flesh visits, and thank-you notes after interviews will get my attention. If you're fishing for "just something" then you're not the type of employee I want to invest in.
    • For every employer like you, there is one just the opposite.

      It'd really just a hit and miss game, and we live in a world where it is increasingly difficult to create aything but the blandest, most vague resumes.

      Some companies have a policy against accepting anything.

      Sure, if someone shows up to the interview and is unprofessional, don't hire them.

      Jobs can be very hard to find. I was out of work for nine months, and I spend 40 hours a week on getting a job. I am not lazy, and would walk from company to compa
  • This is the way we are headed. I flew out to another state to attend a job fair. Raytheon was there. I waited my 45 minutes in line with resume in hand and gave it to the HR manager standing there as I introduced myself. He handed it back to me, and proceeded to tell me how to use their broken website to search for jobs and to apply online. I FLEW OUT TO A JOB FAIR! I paid for the air travel, the hotel, and the rental car.. and they tell me to go back home and make their broken website work. WTF?! I
  • If there's any discrimination against any group to be found here, it will be in the non-functioning kiosk and that they therefore do not provide a way for those without Internet access to apply for a job. A sharp and lucky attorney could at least argue that, if certain minorities have less access to the Internet, then requiring Internet access discriminates against those minorities by not providing a functional method to apply.

    More information would be needed, but there could be a case.

    For example:

    Is the f
  • In high school when I applied to the local grocery store (Publix > *) I had to use one of those crap machines. They are truly a disaster. Some don't even have real keyboards, instead using some sort of rubber buttons like that of a "PDA" that is free with rebates every weekend at CompUSA.

    I remember making an error, going back a page, and losing everything. It was embarassing to say the least,

    "CLEAN UP TEH GIB FROM NOOB TEH WEBGUY ON AISLE 3 PLZ LOLOLO"
  • "Kroger's claims to be an EOE employer

    The EOE is about race, religion, sex, color, age, national origin, or physical or mental disability, etc. Not education. It's perfectly legal for a company to require computer ability and minimum education level to get a job. We do it all the time (clue: read the want ads some time. See where it says "BS Degree Required"?).

    Kroger however I feel that I am being denied my equal opportunity to gain employment due to the failings of a broken piece of software and ha

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