The Harris County District Attorney wants to check you out

Remember last week’s story about the restaurant owner who was asking applicants to send a picture of themselves before he called them for interviews? 

The Texas Workforce Commission said hiring decisions cannot be based in any way upon race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age or disability.

 

“Requiring a photo would likely be considered a clear example of discriminatory hiring practices, according to our attorneys,” a TWC representative wrote.

A lot of you called and emailed after that story. Ryan wrote this:

There are millions of government jobs that require a picture in order to apply including the Harris County District Attorneys Office. Why is a restaurant owner being singled out?

We checked… and sure enough… look at the employment application posted right on the Harris County District Attorney’s website.

The application asks applicants to “attach a current, clear front view, full face photo.”

I called the DA’s office to ask what gives. They sent us this statement:

“The law does not prohibit an agency from requiring a photograph to be submitted along with an employment application as long as that photograph is not utilized for discriminatory practices.    There are good reasons why the office asks for a photograph:  they aid in criminal history and background checks that are necessary for employment with this office; and they are very useful in remembering applicants when a large number of people are being considered for a position.”

 

John Barnhill

General Counsel

 

So I checked back with the TWC. Here is their response to the DA’s employment application and reasoning:

 

“Our attorneys provided info that would be useful to a jobseeker to determine if there should be a concern about an potential employer asking for a photo.  The info could be useful to an employer determining whether it is a good policy to ask for a photo.  The info we provided below was that The hiring process should be free of any indication that the hiring decision will be based in any way upon race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, or disability. 

 Asking for a photo isn’t prohibited by law. Our Civil Rights Division can determine if there is enough evidence to file a discrimination case in court.  888-452-4778

In the statement, as an employer, the Harris County DA s office seems confident that it could defend its position in court that criminal history and background checks that are necessary for employment with this office and they are very useful in remembering applicants when a large number of people are being considered for a position. “

 Hmmm… is there a double standard here? Let me know what you think.

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2 Responses

  1. It did not at first occur to me that a photo requested by a restaurant job application was intended for illegal discrimination purposes. I thought it was simply that the restaurant wants to maintain a standard of “good looks” for their waitstaff. They may want to exclude those with facial tattoos, piercings, funky hair-dos, deformities. While that may not be Politically Correct these days, it is a fact of life and is not (as far as I know) included in the list of illegal discriminatory practices. Gender and race may have absolutely nothing to do with it.

  2. It is a double standard. No matter how you look at it. The law can be broad enough to cover their remarks, but if said by another then it is unlawful. In other words, what applies to you, doesn’t apply to me. Have you ever noticed lady justice wears a blindfold and holds the scale in one hand? HHmmm…

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