Undercover agents target prejudiced hiring practices

One US government agency is adopting a controversial new way to enforce employment law – but would something similar work in Canada?

Undercover agents target prejudiced hiring practices
One US government agency has revealed a controversial new way its officials will be enforcing employment law and critics say if the underhand tactic spreads, it could prove costly for employers, reports a leading NYC publication.

Bill 690-A

Following the enactment of Bill 690-A, New York City’s Human Rights Commission is now required to conduct “matched-pair” testing on at least five employers’ hiring processes between October 1, 2015 and September 30, 2016, according to a news report by Crain's New York Business.

In the “matched-pair” test, two undercover officials will apply for, or inquire about, the same position at the same company – the testers will have similar qualification but one will have a characteristic protected by the city’s Human Rights Law.

An aggressive approach 

While the scale might seem small in the grand scheme of things, experts say there’s no limit to the amount of tests the commission can carry out and warn that the latest law is a clear sign that a more aggressive approach is being adopted.

It’s not uncommon for government agencies like New York City’s Human Rights Commission to use investigators but their primary duties up until now have been to investigate complaints filed by aggrieved individuals – this new action marks one of the first times an agency will actively seek out discrimination on its own.

“This agency is supposed to enforce discrimination law, not create new actions,” Caroline Berdzik, an attorney who chairs the employment and healthcare practice at Goldberg Segalla, told Crain's New York Business. “This is going to open a whole can of worms,” she added.

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