Q & A – What does my organization need to consider in having our application available online?

Q: What does my organization need to consider in having our application available online?

A: There are many considerations if an organization wishes to have its application available online.  To avoid adverse impact implications, it might be best to make sure your application is available in written form as well as electronic.  An employer might also want to make a kiosk on-site available with an application online that can be filled out by applicants that may not have access to a computer.  By making the application available only electronically, it is difficult to ensure it is actually the applicant filing out the application.  If the application is only available in electronic form, it is also hard to assess the applicant’s spelling, reading, and writing capabilities.  If the aforementioned are essential requirements of the job, an employer might want to assess the applicant’s abilities in another way.

There are many software applications that have the ability to sort applications and automatically route them to the appropriate manager.  The advantages of efficiency and the “paperless” application process might outweigh the potential risks of using only online applications.

Having only an online application may result in adverse impact claims.  For example, an employer using software to screen out applicants with home addresses in certain zip codes known to be ethnic, racial, or religious enclaves would violate Title VII. Or it could be argued that webpage access might be an issue of reasonable accommodation for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

The EEOC has brought challenges against employers who use inaccessible website formats may violate Section 102(b)(1) of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Courts have yet to rule on these challenges.  And the EEOC has not taken a position on the extent to which employers must ensure that online recruiting and application processes are compatible with assistive technology used by some individuals with disabilities, like screen-reading software used by those who are blind or visually impaired.