EmploymentRecruitment

Recruitment Firm Dragged into Strange Court Ruling

By March 6, 2014 5 Comments

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:

 

Comment FJ

 

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.

 

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

5 Comments

  • Avatar Kevin Chappell says:

    I wonder whether the Privacy Act trumps the Human Rights Act. Even with names and companies struck out, it wouldn’t be too hard to know who the people were. As you say, a quick flick through LinkedIn and bingo! Perhaps those candidates could invoke their right under the Privacy Act to prevent their details from being released?

    And of course the recruiter always gets the flak! Lowest hanging fruit…. I’m always reminded of an article Greg Savage wrote some time back when he said to put “recruiters are” in Google and see what comes up. Latest are “idiots” and “liars” – so why wouldn’t the recruiter get the blame……

  • Avatar G says:

    The ruling is absolute rubbish. We all know that when you hire somebody many factors are considered, such as ‘scalability’ of the candidate. (Why Alpine did not wave this flag and tell the Human Rights bizzy bodies to just do-one is a separate question)

    It is a complete joke the Human Rights folk (I’ve looked at the profiles – identikit government legal committee sitters) could arise at such a stupid conclusion. I don’t suppose they wish to take on the financial risk them selves of a ‘bad hire’. I am very sure they are not in a better position than Alpine recruitment team to know their hiring needs. The ultimate hiring decision is always going to be subjective and a comparison of CV is no smoking gun of discrimination. Had they analysed the mail server and produced an email stating ‘no old candidates on principle’ they could throw the book at them.

    Rant over – back to work – somebody needs to pay some tax to fund the human rights people

  • Avatar Kerry Kirwan says:

    Candidates miss out on being shortlisted for many reasons often more than just the one …
    too experienced …
    not experienced enough …
    wrong experience …
    bad cv …
    silly cv …
    over-inflated cv …
    bad interview …
    wrong personality fit …

  • Avatar Kerry Kirwan says:

    being rude to the receptionist …
    being late for their interview …
    answering their cell phone during their interview … and then having a conversation

    And yes, I do counsel candidates but some can’t be saved as they are naturally …
    over-confident …
    lack confidence …
    are too talkative …
    don’t talk enough …

    Some are just too locked in to negative patterns …
    Or can’t answer interview questions with the right amount of appropriate information …
    Others just have the ‘wrong’ personality or psychometric profile indicators …

    And then there’s “bad”, “very bad” and “OMG that’s dreadful” – referee comments …

    Mostly these applicants won’t make the final shortlist (many won’t even make it to an interview).

    Once I even had a candidate rejected because she had the same first name as the client’s ex-wife – he had recently gone through a bitter divorce …
    Discrimination due to martial status by proxy – perhaps?

    It’s not about age … it’s about suitability for the role / environment / cultural / team / future … and that’s how recruitment works in a competitive marketplace.

  • Avatar Mason says:

    Crikey.
    If I am hiring I want to hire who I feel is the best person not just the most skilled or experienced. Many of our clients hire on aptitude and train skill which I really endorse. What happens if a disgruntled employee goes to the Human Rights Tribunal after being made redundant – this ruling suggests they could get a ruling allowing them to read employee’s HR files because they feel they were more qualified, experienced or otherwise “discriminated”!
    Where are individuals rights to have a confidential job application?

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