Legal issues during the recruitment process


All employees involved in the recruitment process should receive training on equal opportunities including its application to recruitment. Employees should be particularly aware that employment tribunals have a wide discretion to determine whether particular documents are admissible as evidence as part of case proceedings. A tribunal is likely to consider documentation that give an insight into the course of the employer’s decision making as pertinent in deciding whether an unlawful act has occurred. Therefore, training should be provided on the importance of ensuring that the recruitment process is adequately documented so that in the event of a complaint there is a paper trail of a decision which is objectively justified.

In Lucia Pagliarone v Immuno Biotech [2015] the Claimant was six months’ into her role as personal assistant to the chief executive of the Respondent Company when she discovered her CV on her boss’ desk. On the CV there were comments made by the chief executive which allegedly stated “red lipstick, heels – good; tattoos – do not approve; wearing a dress – excellent”. It has been reported that the tribunal found that these gender specific comments about the Claimant as insulting and subjected the Claimant to a detriment.

It was further reported that on another occasion the chief executive stated, following an interview with a potential candidate, that he “can’t hire her as she is ugly and overweight and [he] only employ[s] beautiful women.”

The Claimant took her claim to an employment tribunal and reportedly was awarded £10,500 in compensation for sex discrimination and harassment.

Employers should be mindful that notes taken during the interview process are potentially disclosable and should refrain from making comments (either verbal or written) about a candidate’s physical appearance as these could give rise to claims for sex discrimination.

Dominic Bonham