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Legal Concepts/Definitions Relevant to Workplace Planning and Employment

In addition to knowing the laws listed earlier, it’s also essential to know, understand, and be able to identify the relevance of a variety of legal concepts and definitions. In this section, we’ll explore and discuss those that pertain primarily to Workforce Planning and Employment.

Equal Employment Opportunity: The Basics

EEO represents a commitment to ensure that equal opportunity throughout all dimensions of the employment relationship serves as the backdrop to employment-related legislation. To be effective in their roles (and to ensure compliance with the law), HR professionals need to understand certain fundamental Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)-related concepts. This section will address and discuss some basic EEO-related concepts.

Protected Class

A protected class is a group of people who share a common characteristic and who are protected by law from discrimination and harassment on the basis of that shared characteristic.

Discrimination

Discrimination, in the truest sense of the word, is not necessarily illegal. To discriminate is to make a distinction, or to discern. When distinctions or discernments are made on the basis of factors, traits, or characteristics that are protected by law, however, discrimination becomes unlawful.

Types of Unlawful Discrimination

HR professionals must be knowledgeable about the following types of discrimination:

  • Disparate (or “adverse”) treatment
  • Disparate (or “adverse”) impact
  • Perpetuating past discrimination
Disparate (or “Adverse”) Treatment

Disparate (or “adverse”) treatment is a type of unlawful discrimination that occurs when an employer intentionally treats applicants or employees differently on the basis of their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, military or veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. The following would constitute examples of disparate treatment:

  • Candidates who indicate on their employment application that they speak Spanish are interviewed (in part or in whole) in Spanish, but all other candidates are interviewed in English.
  • Female members of a team or department are asked to take meeting minutes or provide refreshments, whereas male members are not.
  • The quality or quantity of work that is performed by employees who request a modified work schedule so they can attend religious services is more closely scrutinized than the quality or quantity of work performed by employees who do not make such a request.
Disparate (or “Adverse”) Impact

Disparate (or adverse) impact occurs when a seemingly neutral policy or practice has a disproportionately negative effect upon one or more members of a protected class. In this context, policies or practices that do not reflect legitimate job requirements but do have a statistically significant impact on members of a protected class may constitute unlawful discrimination. For instance:

  • An organization requires that all newly hired employees have a college degree, even though a degree is not required to perform some of the jobs that exist within the organization. If members of protected classes are “screened out” at a statistically higher rate, an allegation of disparate impact might be upheld.
  • An organization requires that all newly promoted managers spend the first six months on the job working at six different—and geographically dispersed—locations throughout the country. If members of a protected class are eliminated from consideration for employment at a statistically higher rate because of this policy, and if this policy is found to be unrelated to successful performance of the position, an allegation of disparate impact might be upheld.
Perpetuating Past Discrimination

Unlawful discrimination also occurs when an employer’s past discriminatory practices are perpetuated through current policies or practices—even those that appear to be nondiscriminatory. When linked in some way with past discrimination, seemingly nondiscriminatory practices can have a discriminatory effect.

One of the most commonly recognized examples of how past discrimination can be perpetuated through current policy or practice can be found in the use of employee referral programs. Here’s how this can happen: if discriminatory hiring decisions have been made in the past, an employer’s workforce may now be primarily composed of people who are not members of protected classes—perhaps people who are white or male. If that same employer uses referrals from current employees as the primary means of recruiting new employees, it is likely that the individuals who will subsequently be brought into the workforce may also be primarily white or male —thus perpetuating the potentially discriminatory (albeit unintentional) staffing decisions that were made in the past.

Harassment: (Yet) Another Type of Unlawful Discrimination

Unlawful workplace discrimination can also manifest itself as harassment of a person on the basis of her membership in a protected class. Although most of the landmark court cases and media coverage on this topic focus on sexual harassment, HR professionals must be cognizant of the fact that harassment on the basis of any protected class—not just sex—may constitute unlawful discrimination.

The EEOC has issued the following information/guidelines around harassment:

  • “Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.
  • “Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.
  • “Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:
  • “The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • “The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • “Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.”

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment. They should clearly communicate to employees that unwelcome harassing conduct will not be tolerated. They can do this by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process, providing antiharassment training to their managers and employees, and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.

Employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Employees should also report harassment to management at an early stage to prevent its escalation.

Employer Liability for Harassment

The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.

  • “The employer will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (e.g., independent contractors or customers on the premises), if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.
  • “When investigating allegations of harassment, the EEOC looks at the entire record: including the nature of the conduct, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination of whether harassment is severe or pervasive enough to be illegal is made on a case-by-case basis.” (www.eeoc.gov)
Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which was rendered illegal by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as follows:

  • “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

    1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment.
    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.
    3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.”

There are two categories of sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo: As previously articulated in point 2, quid pro quo harassment occurs when an individual’s submission to or rejection of sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature is used as the basis for employment-related decisions. Quid pro quo harassment, therefore, originates from a supervisor or from others who have the authority to influence or make decisions about the employee’s terms and conditions of employment.
  • Hostile work environment: Hostile work environment harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s job performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. Hostile work environment harassment can be found to exist whether or not the employee experiences (or runs the risk of experiencing) tangible or economic work-related consequences. By definition, a hostile work environment can be created by virtually anyone with whom an employee might come in contact in the workplace (or “workspace,” in the event of remote harassment through electronic means such as emails, faxes, instant messages (IMs), and so on).

Key EEO-Related Terms

In going through this section, and as you prepare for the SPHR exam, there are some terms that you’ll need to be familiar with:

  • Charge: A formal complaint, submitted to an agency, that alleges unlawful discrimination.
  • Charging party: A person who alleges that he has experienced unlawful discrimination (also called the complainant).
  • Complainant: A person who alleges that she has experienced unlawful discrimination (also called the charging party).
  • EEOC: The government agency responsible for enforcing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Plaintiff: A party who files a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination.
  • Respondent: The employer, person, or party against whom a charge of unlawful discrimination has been filed.
  • Fair Employment Practices Agencies (FEPAs): State or local agencies responsible for enforcing EEO laws that are specific to their respective jurisdiction. At the state level, 47 states (all except Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi) have agencies that respond to charges of EEO violations.

Federal, State, and Local Jurisdictions

On the federal level, the agency charged with enforcing many of the laws that are aimed at eliminating discrimination is the EEOC.

Sometimes charges can be filed under two or even three jurisdictions. For instance,

  • If a charge is filed with a FEPA but is also covered by federal law, the FEPA “dual files” the charge with EEOC to protect federal rights. In this scenario, the FEPA will usually maintain responsibility for handling the charge.
  • If a charge is filed with EEOC but is also covered by state or local law, EEOC “dual files” the charge with the state or local FEPA. In this scenario, the EEOC will usually maintain responsibility for handling the charge.

At other times, when a state or local EEO law is more protective than the corresponding federal law (or when a corresponding federal law does not exist), a charge may be filed only with the FEPA, whose laws offer greater protection to employees.

Filing Charges: Time Limits and Related Information

The EEOC offers the following guidelines relative to filing charges of discrimination (www.eeoc.gov):

Filing a Charge of Employment Discrimination

Federal employees or applicants for federal employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.

Who Can File a Charge of Discrimination?

Any individual who believes that her employment rights have been violated may file a charge of discrimination with EEOC.

In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person to protect the aggrieved person’s identity.

How Is a Charge of Discrimination Filed?

A charge may be filed by mail or in person at the nearest EEOC office.

Individuals who need an accommodation to file a charge (such as a sign language interpreter or print materials in an accessible format) should inform the EEOC field office so appropriate arrangements can be made.

Federal employees or applicants for employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.

What Information Must Be Provided to File a Charge?

The following information must be provided to file a charge:

  • The complaining party’s name, address, and telephone number.
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the respondent employer, employment agency, or union that is alleged to have discriminated, and the number of employees (or union members), if known.
  • A short description of the alleged violation (the event that caused the complaining party to believe that his or her rights were violated).
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation(s).

Federal employees or applicants for employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.

What Are the Time Limits for Filing a Charge of Discrimination?

All laws enforced by EEOC, except the Equal Pay Act, require filing a charge with EEOC before a private lawsuit may be filed in court. There are strict time limits within which charges must be filed:

  • A charge must be filed with EEOC within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation to protect the charging party’s rights.
  • This 180-day filing deadline is extended to 300 days if the charge also is covered by a state or local antidiscrimination law. For ADEA charges, only state laws extend the filing limit to 300 days.
  • These time limits do not apply to claims under the Equal Pay Act because under that Act persons do not have to first file a charge with EEOC to have the right to go to court. However, because many EPA claims also raise Title VII sex discrimination issues, it may be advisable to file charges under both laws within the time limits indicated.
  • To protect legal rights, it is always best to contact EEOC promptly when discrimination is suspected.
  • Federal employees or applicants for employment should see Federal Sector Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Processing.

What Agency Handles a Charge That Is Also Covered by State or Local Law?

Many states and localities have antidiscrimination laws and agencies responsible for enforcing those laws. EEOC refers to these agencies as FEPAs. Through the use of “work sharing agreements,” EEOC and the FEPAs avoid duplication of effort while ensuring that a charging party’s rights are protected under both federal and state law.

  • If a charge is filed with a FEPA but also covered by federal law, the FEPA “dual files” the charge with EEOC to protect federal rights. The charge usually will be retained by the FEPA for handling.
  • If a charge is filed with EEOC but also covered by state or local law, EEOC “dual files” the charge with the state or local FEPA but ordinarily retains the charge for handling.

How Is a Charge Filed for Discrimination Outside the United States?

U.S.-based companies that employ U.S. citizens outside the United States or its territories are covered under EEO laws, with certain exceptions. An individual alleging an EEO violation outside the U.S. should file a charge with the district office closest to her employer’s headquarters. However, if you are unsure where to file, you may file a charge with any EEOC office.

EEOC—Handling Charges

After a charge of discrimination has been filed, the EEOC sends a letter to the employer notifying it that a complaint has been filed. At this point, some employers will decide to “settle.” There are any number of reasons why an organization might decide to settle, just a few of which include the following:

  • To elude the requirement of providing information to the EEOC.
  • To avoid allocating resources (financial, human, emotional, and otherwise) to the process of responding to a charge of discrimination, especially if it appears that the costs of fighting may outweigh the benefits of prevailing (“winning”)—even if the organization believes that no unlawful discrimination has taken place.
  • To prevent the possibility of bad press that can, at times, be generated even by the mere filing of a charge of discrimination.
  • To seek a resolution to a situation in which the employer believes that there may be exposure (in other words, where the charge of discrimination may be valid).

Alternatively, many employers choose not to seek a settlement agreement when a charge of discrimination is first filed. In such situations, there are four primary ways that the EEOC can handle the charge:

  • Investigate it: Investigations can be designated as “high priority” or “non-high priority,” depending upon the strength of the facts that have been presented in the charge. An EEOC investigation can take myriad forms, including written requests for information, in-person interviews, document reviews, and even a visit to the location where the discrimination allegedly occurred.
  • Settle it: A charge can be settled at any stage of the investigation if the charging party and the employer are both interested in doing so. If no settlement is reached, the investigation resumes.
  • Mediate it: The EEOC offers a confidential mediation program as an alternative to a lengthy investigative process. For a charge to be mediated, the charging party and the employer must both be willing to participate. If the mediation process is not successful, the charge will be investigated.
  • Dismiss it: A charge can be dismissed at any point in the process if the agency determines that further investigation will not be able to establish that the alleged unlawful discrimination actually occurred. When a charge is dismissed, a notice is issued in accordance with the law that gives the charging party 90 days within which to file a lawsuit on his own behalf.

EEOC Determinations

The EEOC determines whether there is “reasonable cause” to believe that unlawful discrimination has occurred.

When the EEOC determinates that discrimination has likely occurred, it issues a finding of “reasonable cause.” This determination is based on the evidence gathered during the investigation. If the EEOC determines that there is reasonable cause, the EEOC will attempt conciliation with the employer in an effort to develop a remedy for the discrimination. If the EEOC cannot conciliate the case, the EEOC will decide whether to take the case to court. (The EEOC chooses to litigate a very small percentage of cases.) If the EEOC does not take the case to court, it will close the case and issue the charging party a “right to sue” letter.

If the EEOC determines that there is no reasonable cause, the case is closed, the parties are notified, and the charging party is given a “right to sue” letter. The charging party then has 90 days to file a private lawsuit.

The charging party can also request a right to sue letter from the EEOC 180 days after the charge was filed (60 days for ADEA). A charging party may not bring a case to court if the charge has been successfully conciliated, mediated, or settled.

EEO—Going to Court

If a case does proceed to court, HR’s role will vary significantly, depending on a host of factors. For instance, in some organizations, HR may be called on to assist in-house or outside counsel with responding to a complaint, to collect data as part of the discovery process, or to be available to assist and facilitate the process. Depending on HR’s role in the actual case, HR professionals may be deposed, testify, or represent the organization during the trial—in a sense, being the “face” of the organization to the judge and jury.

Relief or Remedies

When a plaintiff prevails in an EEO lawsuit, she may be awarded various forms of “relief” or remedies (whether the discrimination was intentional or unintentional):

  • Back pay
  • Hiring, or front pay (instead of hiring the individual)
  • Promotion
  • Reinstatement, or front pay (instead of rehiring the individual)
  • Reasonable accommodation
  • Other actions that will make an individual “whole” (in the condition that she would have been but for the discrimination)
  • Attorneys’ fees
  • Expert witness fees
  • Court costs

Compensatory and punitive damages may also be available when the discrimination is found to be intentional (and in rare cases, even when the discrimination is found to be unintentional).

Understanding Front Pay

The concept of front pay is one with which HR professionals should be familiar. According to the EEOC (www.eeoc.gov):

  • “The remedy of front pay compensates a victim in situations where reinstatement or nondiscriminatory placement would be an available remedy, but is denied for reasons peculiar to the individual claim. The compensation of front pay makes the victim of discrimination whole generally until such nondiscriminatory placement can be accomplished. See Romero v. Department of the Air Force.”

Numerous decisions of the Commission have recognized the Commission’s authority to award front pay as a remedy and have discussed the propriety of such an award under the particular facts of those cases. The Commission decisions discussed in this article were selected to illustrate the Commission’s treatment of the front pay remedy.

Reinstatement or nondiscriminatory placement is preferred over the remedy of front pay. See Romero. However, front pay may be determined to be more appropriate in certain situations. The Court in EEOC v. Prudential Federal Savings and Loan Association stated that front pay should be awarded “when the employer has exhibited such extreme hostility that, as a practical matter, a productive and amicable working relationship would be impossible.” The Commission in Finlay v. United States Postal Service, and in earlier cases cited in Finlay, set out three circumstances in which front pay may be awarded in lieu of reinstatement: (1) Where no position is available; (2) Where a subsequent working relationship between the parties would be antagonistic; or (3) Where the employer has a record of long-term resistance to discrimination efforts.

HR professionals must partner with management and leadership to determine functionally—and on a job-by-job basis—what these employees will need to do to move the organization to where it needs to go. These are the all-important workforce analysis and planning functions. It is in this context that we will look at jobs.

It’s important to note that not all organizations conduct this process in the same order. And that’s okay. It’s more important to ensure that all these steps are taken in a logical way that will yield solid results than it is to mandate a particular process.

Job Analysis

Job analysis is the process by which information about a specific position is collected. Job analysis produces three important outputs that are critical to the workforce planning process:

  • Job description
  • Job specifications
  • Job competencies

Job Description

Job descriptions are a key tool for many of the functions that HR professionals perform. Although they can take many different formats, most job descriptions have several elements in common:

  • Identifying information: This includes job title, department or division name, reporting relationship, FLSA status, the date on which the description was written, the name of the person who wrote it, and so on.
  • Scope information: This is the area of responsibility for, over, or within which this position has authority or responsibility.
  • Responsibility for supervision, if applicable: This includes any positions whom the position incumbent supervises.
  • Physical work conditions or physical demands: Although easy to overlook, it’s critical to include this information in the job description.
  • Minimum requirements: Often, this refers to experience, education, or other mandatory credentials required to perform the position successfully. These are often the factors that will be initially used to screen candidates in or out during the resume review process and to determine who will be interviewed.
  • Knowledge, skills, and abilities required: These are acceptable levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities (also known as KSAs). These may include items that organizations or interviewers sometimes mistakenly take for granted and do not explore enough with candidates during the selection process.

    • Knowledge: Simply stated, knowledge is what the incumbent needs to know about a specific body of information to be able to perform the position successfully. For instance, an instructor who conducts training onsite at a particular organization may need to have knowledge of organizational dynamics. An automotive mechanic may need to have knowledge of mechanical, electronic, and computer technology.
    • Skills: Skills refer to the ability to perform a particular task. For instance, the instructor may need to possess the ability to engage participants in facilitated discussions about the workshop topics. The automotive mechanic may needs to possess the ability to drive a standard (or “stick”) shift.
    • Abilities: Abilities refer to specific traits or behavioral characteristics required to perform successfully in a position. For instance, an instructor may need to demonstrate a willingness and comfort to engage quickly with people with whom she is not previously acquainted (which could perhaps be referred to as “outgoing”). The automotive mechanic might need to be mechanically inclined.
  • Overall purpose of the position: This is a short (usually less than a paragraph, and maybe even as short as a sentence) statement summarizing why the position exists and what it is intended to accomplish.
  • Overall purpose/mission of the organization: Some organizations choose to include the mission of the organization on each job description as a way of ensuring that the mission of the position is—and remains—meaningfully linked to and aligned with the mission of the organization.
  • Duties and responsibilities: These are tasks and functions that the incumbent is expected to perform. Sometimes job descriptions also indicate the percentage of time that is spent on each major responsibility or group of responsibilities (which may or may not correlate to the importance of the responsibility).

Although there is no one definitive, or master, list of what should be included in a job description, selecting and including appropriate elements (such as those listed here) ensures that the job description is accurate, thorough, and on target to serve (ultimately) as a valuable resource for other projects and initiatives.

Essential and Nonessential Job Functions

For ADA and other purposes, duties and responsibilities should be divided into two categories: essential and nonessential job functions.

The ADA states that “consideration shall be given to the employer’s judgment as to what functions of a job are essential, and if an employer has prepared a written description before advertising or interviewing applicants for the job, this description shall be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job” (www.eeoc.gov). Failure to have a job description in place, therefore, could diminish the strength of the employer’s position in defending an allegation that an employee or applicant has been discriminated against on the basis of disability. In short, employers can’t “make up” (or look like they are making up) requirements after the fact.

Essential functions are those that are inherently fundamental and necessary to a position. Together—and perhaps even on their own—they constitute part (or even most, or all) of the reason that the job exists. Often, an essential function cannot be performed by many—or perhaps even by any—other employees in the organization.

Conversely, nonessential functions are more peripheral to the position. They generally constitute a smaller and relatively unimportant part of the position and could fairly easily be performed by other employees.

Job Specifications (or “Specs”)

Job specifications refer to the qualifications that a successful candidate must possess or demonstrate to perform effectively in a position. These could refer to the skills, knowledge, abilities, behavioral characteristics, and other credentials and experience necessary to perform a position successfully. They do not, however, refer to the qualifications that the best-qualified candidate might possess or bring to a role; instead, they refer to what it will take to get the job done in a manner that fully meets expectations of the position.

Job specs can be expressed as

  • KSAs: The minimally acceptable levels of knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully perform a position.
  • Credentials: Years of experience, educational requirements, and so on.
  • Requirements: Physical or mental.

Job Competencies

Job competencies speak to broad categories of skills, abilities, or behavioral characteristics that are required to perform successfully in a particular position, department, or organization. These are often embraced by organizations with terms such as “key success factors,” “competencies for success,” or “performance factors.” They could include things such as “communication skills,” “teamwork,” or “initiative.” The same competencies may manifest themselves differently in different positions or departments throughout the organization.

BFOQs are legitimate job requirements mandated by business necessity that can have an unintended discriminatory (disparate) impact on applicants or employees.

Job Analysis

Job analysis is the process through which information about a position is inventoried. The elements that compose each job in the organization are identified through this process. These elements often include

  • Responsibilities, duties, and tasks performed by the position incumbent.
  • How those responsibilities, duties, and tasks relate to each other and to other jobs within the organization. This includes how frequently each of those activities is performed as well as how activities relate to each other in terms of importance.

Job analysis also identifies the KSAs required for successful performance of the position.

Job analysis is not about completing a form. It is also not just about the job description that will be produced as a byproduct of the job analysis. Rather, it is a building block as you continue to form relationships with your internal clients. It will either enhance or diminish how others within your organization perceive you.

How to Conduct a Job Analysis

There are many ways to collect information that will be used in conducting a job analysis. Depending on what is appropriate in your organization, consider the following:

  • Interviewing the incumbent, or the prior incumbent, if that person is available
  • Interviewing the person who supervises the position
  • Interviewing the supervisor’s supervisor
  • Interviewing coworkers
  • Interviewing direct reports, if applicable
  • Interviewing clients or customers with whom the position interacts
  • Interviewing vendors with whom the position interacts
  • Observing the incumbent performing the position, if possible and appropriate
  • Reviewing work product
  • Reviewing any documentation, reports, or performance-related statistics or records generated by—or about—the position

Job Descriptions

One of the primary results generated by a job analysis is a job description. A job description is an inventory of important information gathered about the position during the job analysis process.

Different organizations structure their job descriptions differently. In large part, this is a function of the job evaluation system that will be used. Job descriptions, however, incorporate stylistic as well as substantive considerations. They reflect, to a degree, the culture of the organization.

How to Create a Job Description

However the job description is designed, certain elements should be included:

  • Job title
  • Date on which the description was completed
  • Name of person preparing the description
  • Department, unit, or division
  • Supervisory reporting relationship(s)
  • Direct reporting relationships, if applicable
  • Essential functions
  • Nonessential functions
  • Working conditions and environment
  • Physical requirements of the position
  • Degree of financial accountability
  • Qualifications required to perform the position

Although there is no one definitive, or master, list of what should be included in a job description, selecting and including appropriate elements (such as those listed above) in the job description ensures that the job description is accurate, thorough, and on target to serve (ultimately) as a valuable resource for other projects and initiatives.

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