Application Form

There is no legal requirement that employers use employment applications. However, an appropriate employment application can serve several valuable functions.

For example, an application form can be a useful initial screening device to eliminate applicants who do not have the necessary education, training, or experience for the job.

If the prospective employer is seeking references from the applicant’s previous employers, a signed application containing an appropriate release may encourage former employers to release the desired information.

The release also can serve as a defense to any lawsuit an applicant might bring claiming the organization invaded his/her privacy by conducting the reference checks.

A signed application containing a clear employment-at-will statement makes it more difficult for an employee to later bring a breach of contract lawsuit if he/she is terminated.

Finally, a statement on the application notifying an applicant that any information on the application found, after hire, to be false or misleading will be grounds for termination can help prevent or defend wrongful discharge claims.

Note also that the law, interpreted through court decisions, prohibits the use of pre-employment inquiries and qualifying factors that disproportionately screen out members of protected classes (i.e., members of minority groups or members of one sex) if the inquiries are not valid predictors of successful job performance or cannot be justified by “business necessity.”