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Can federal job postings legally be tailored to specific individuals by adding obscure job qualifications.

Chicago, IL |

I encountered a posting on USAJOBS.gov for a statistician (NIH). The job has qualifications that are atypical for the position and job duties. Specifically, the posting requires advanced courses in mathematics that are not related to the duties required in any meaningful way. The posting requires more advanced courses in mathematics than statistics. This is a full-time permanent position and my hunch is that the hiring managers already had somebody in mind with a specific background that other qualified candidates are unlikely to share. It is common practice in the agency I work for to have an inside or outside candidate in mind prior to posting the position, then having the opening available for 3 days thus minimizing the number of applicants for what is essentially a rigged process.

This is a federal job and therefore supposed to be competitive so that the public is best served. I realize it is common practice, but I would think federal jobs are held to a higher standard. There are and have been many husband/wife, siblings and cousins working within the same department where I work.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. While your suspicions may be correct, it appears your employer has posted the position in such a way that there is nothing inherently wrong. If you believe there is some sort of reverse discrimination going on, but you are not otherwise qualified for the job, then there really is nothing you can do. If you believe you have been improperly shut out of applying, then you might wish to discuss your concerns with an employment attorney.


  2. This is actually fairly common. They may well have a particular candidate in mind, but unless there is some form of discrimination against a protected class of persons, there probably isn't anything wrong with it.

    This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney client relationship with Mr. Cassara.


  3. The law does not require that the position posting track exactly the present duties or requirements of the position. The law allows employers to take the long view and have long-range plans or contingencies in mind. Employees do not ordinarily know all of such long-range alternatives and possibilities, and cannot establish to the legal standard that the postings are false or sham. If you are represented by a union, you may want to discuss this with your union rep. The union is the first "check" against improprieties in the fairness of job postings. It would be a very rare and exceptional circumstance where a posting about a vacant position was the basis for a cost-effective and provable law suit.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

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