Center strives to prevent job discrimination

By Jean Volz

NIU’s Career Planning and Placement Center attempts to root out any signs of discrimination by potential employers in interviews at job fairs or in on-campus recruiting; however, these preparatory measures do not always succeed.

Gary Scott, director of NIU’s Career Planning and Placement Center, said his office holds workshops for students participating in one of NIU’s job fairs or recruiting opportunities to acquaint them with the proper procedures of interviews.

He said this familiarity could aid students in distinguishing between discriminatory questions and idle small-talk in which interviewers could engage.

Scott believes the interviewer is usually the one to blame in discriminatory instances, rather than the company, but he said the employers still need to be notified of the unprofessional techniques of their interviewers.

“The individual still affects the organization,” he said.

Despite the preparation job seekers have, Scott said he still receives inquiries from students who are uncertain about an interviewer’s questions. If the Career Planning and Placement Center feels the interview is of a discriminatory nature, the students can take one of two actions.

One of the avenues an individual can take is to make an informal complaint to Scott’s office.

He said the offending interviewer’s supervisor will be phoned, and an outline of the occurrence will be given.

Scott said a supervisor usually will make the interviewer the subject of company disciplinary action or a training program to learn proper interviewing techniques.

“It is the individual action of employees. It is not a company,” Scott said.

The second action students might opt to take begins with written formal action, in which the individual fills out and files a complaint form in the Career Planning and Placement Center.

This form allows the student to outline the entire situation in writing and categorize the type of discrimination the student feels he or she was subjected to.

Scott said he will call the organization personally and notify it of the nature of the complaint. In addition, he will request the company’s policy that is relative to the situation.

He then will inquire whether or not the employer was aware of the problem, and will suspend the company from further recruiting at NIU until he can be reassured the company will not engage in discriminatory practices again.

While the actions of the interviewer usually are not the fault of a company or its policies, Scott also said instances, such as the ones which occurred at the Nov. 8 Job Fair, should not go unpunished.

He said his phone calls to interviewers’ employers usually are deemed as helpful because the company can then correct the problem.

“I’ve never had a company get upset,” he said.

Scott said most companies are trying to actively recruit women and minorities and as a result, their questioning procedures may need some refinement.

Furthermore, Scott believes if a company gets suspended from recruiting at NIU, it will definitely suffer. “NIU is viewed as a prime recruiting source for some companies,” he said.