She never applied — how can she sue for hiring bias?

When the economy begins picking up, companies will need to consider whether they want to rehire employees who’ve been let go. Not handling that question properly got this company tangled up in a big court battle.
An employee was laid off when the company decided her department was overstaffed. The company offered her transfers to a few other positions, which she turned down for various reasons. She also inquired about other openings for which she wasn’t qualified.
Eventually a job opened that the ex-employee was qualified for, and the company’s HR manager called her to discuss the position. She said she was interested but claims she got no further information about the offer.
When she found out a few weeks later the job had gone to someone nearly 30 years her junior, she sued the company for age discrimination.
Who takes the next step?
The employee claimed she was told the job was hers, then never contacted again. But the company argued it put the ball in her court. The HR manager said she probably would’ve been given the job, but she never sent in an application, so she was never officially considered.
Who’d the judge side with?
The employee. The court noted previous offers the company made to her, which appeared to be straight offers without the need for applications or interviews. The inconsistency looked suspect to the judge, who denied the company’s motion to dismiss.
You know what that means — a hefty settlement or a long, costly trial.
Cite: Owens v. Wellmont, Inc.

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