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Company learns hard lesson regarding employment offers

It must sometimes seem to company principals, office managers and HR specialists working in business enterprises in Connecticut and across the country that landmines -- at least figuratively -- confront them at all times as they go about their job duties.

And that is arguably the case most of all in the employment realm, where businesses routinely confront a complex and exacting regulatory scheme applicable to the hiring, retention and termination of their workers.

An illustrative case in point that firmly underscores the challenge-marked realities of regulatory compliance in the workplace recently surfaced in Florida. A judicial outcome there imparted some harsh truths for a company that, while seemingly acing more out of ignorance than overt bad faith regarding its interaction with a prospective employee, was nonetheless reprimanded and punished for its conduct.

The bottom line in that case was this: The company made a formal job offer to a female applicant and very quickly thereafter found out that she was pregnant. Upon discovering that, the enterprise promptly rescinded the offer (prior to her acceptance), informing the woman that the business had "a very urgent need to have somebody in this position long-term."

That was a mistake that prompted a lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That litigation recently produced an outcome unsurprisingly adverse to the company, which was fined $100,000 and tasked with quick implementation of a formal program to address and counter pregnancy discrimination at the workplace, including at the hiring stage.

Job applicants must be treated the same as other prospective employees, stated a government spokesperson following the case outcome.

When they are not, a company alleged to be in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws can open itself up to liability of a high magnitude. Additionally, it can find itself subject to exacting requirements mandating the comprehensive development and implementation of formal anti-discriminatory workplace programs.

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