August 10, 2010

Angry applicants & cranky candidates: Can temperament be a job qualification?

Posted in Color, Discrimination, Interviewing, National Origin, Race tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:22 pm by Tom Jacobson

If an applicant who is minimally qualified for a job becomes agitated or otherwise shows bad temperament during the application process, can those personality traits be used as the reason to reject the candidate?  Consider the July 28, 2010 case of Amini v. City of Minneapolis.

Hamid Amini was a police officer candidate at the Minneapolis Police Department.  The hiring process at the MPD included oral and written examinations, fitness and psychological testing,  background checks, and interviews.  During an interview, Amini became agitated, argumentative, frustrated, and demanding.   Because of its concerns over Amini’s temperament, the City did not hire him.

Amini sued the city under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that he was discriminated against on the basis of his national origin, race, and color.  He also claimed race discrimination under 42 U.S.C. Section 1981.

The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Judge Donovan W. Frank presiding,  dismissed Amini’s lawsuit.  Judge Frank held that while Amini may have been minimally qualified for the job, the city’s reason for rejecting him (his apparent bad temperament) was a legitimate non-discriminatory reason.  Judge Frank also rejected Amini’s argument that the city’s reason was a pretext for discrimination.

While the Amini case reinforces the principle that an employee’s or applicant’s temperamant can be considered when making decisions about that person’s employment, personality traits should be considered with great caution.  Such traits tend to be subjective and are difficult to prove.  And, what might be an important personality trait in one job might be irrelevant in another.  Without solid evidence, relying on temperament may not be a good defense to a discrimination claim.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

1 Comment »

  1. […] August I commented the case of Amini v. City of Minneapolis.  The case centers around Hamid Amini, who was a police […]

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