As an employer who gets regular applications from potential employees, you never have a lack of people to select from. In your last round of applicants, you had several excellent people apply for the job.
Among them was one person with a disability. Their work record is flawless, and they seem to know what they’re doing. The other applicants have less experience, but they’re more physically able to do work, and you feel like they’d be a better fit in your workplace.
Do you have to hire the disabled applicant?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Act doesn’t require you to hire a person with a disability over a person without disabilities, but it does require that you’re not discriminatory during the hiring process.
It is unlawful to discriminate against an individual who is qualified for the position based on their disability alone, even if they would need reasonable accommodations.
That being said, if you believe that they cannot do the job as well as another applicant, then you may be able to hire someone else instead. Here’s an example.
If applicant A is disabled and has a work history of three years in the field, you may consider them against another employer, applicant B, who has a work history of four years in the field. Looking at experience alone, you could opt to hire the applicant without a disability.
This becomes trickier if you see that the applicant with a disability is highly qualified in comparison to other applicants. In that case, you may not be able to find a reason to hire another person over the applicant with a disability. If they can do the job with or without reasonable accommodations, then you do need to consider the applicant with a disability.
If you choose not to hire the worker with a disability, should you explain yourself?
You don’t need to give them a reason for not hiring them, but it may be helpful to explain that another applicant had greater skills or more experience. Your attorney can help you handle this situation if you’re not sure of the steps to take next.