A kiwi recruitment agency hit the mainstream newswires again this week. A candidate who failed to make the shortlist for a couple of roles at Alpine Energy has claimed that he was discriminated against due to his age. Farrow Jamieson were recruiting one of the positions and have been sucked into the argument, where the Human Rights Review Tribunal have ruled that the 62 year old applicant can view the CV’s of the other applicants who were chosen ahead of him.
Naturally, people have got their knickers in a twist about this, and rightly so. The way I read it in terms of the reporting, it sounds like all of the CV information for the shortlisted applicants will be made available. This, of course, is a significant breach of privacy, especially in small-town New Zealand where applicants may not want it to be known by other members of their local community that they were on the market for a new job. A quick scan through the comments on the article reflects the predictable uproar.
The facts, though, are somewhat different (and far less sensational, which is probably why they’re not highlighted). My understanding is that it is in fact only the CV’s of the successful applicants who were eventually appointed to the vacant positions that have been made available to the complainant. Furthermore, whilst the name has to remain on the CV, the names of the previous employers will be removed. So what is actually going to be used as “evidence” that the people appointed to the roles were less suited to the position than he was, and he was overlooked based on age, is actually far less useful than a simple LinkedIn profile that could be obtained with a quick call to Alpine Energy’s switchboard and a search of the social networking site.
On the other hand, the court are yet to rule on this case, so now find themselves on the brink of setting a very dangerous (and unworkable) precedent. If the court do in fact rule that he should have been appointed back into a role at his old employer (where he worked for 33 years, retiring 4 years before reapplying to work there again…) then they are essentially overruling the employment decision made by the hiring client and the recruitment agency. A decision that may have taken note of his age, but was probably far more likely based around his team fit, his attitude, and whether the skills that served him so well for 33 years were still relevant to the new directions the company was heading in. But that can’t possibly happen, unless the courts are to replace the recruiters in the recruitment process. Please God no…
On a side note, it was charming to find that the comment on the article with the most number of “thumbs ups” from other readers was this one:
A pointless, throw away comment that bears very little relevance to the article or the court case, is widely approved by other readers purely because it raises the tired old refrain of agency bashing. If all else fails and you’ve run out of intelligent contributions to make to a debate, you can always rely on a bit of point-the-finger-at-the-agency to invigorate yourself eh? We really do make easy targets… and it was funny to see Ross Clennett making the same point this week too… OK you can put the violins away now 😉
Have a good weekend and hopefully see some of you soon. With events like the HRINZ Recruitment SIG, a LinkedIn shindig, Wellington’s Workforce Planning Conference, #IT18 talent conference and of course our very own #RicePowWow all coming up, it’s busy times ahead. See you around, perhaps.