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Destroying Resumes illegal?

While my boss and I were reading Joel's latest article, he mentioned that throwing away (or deleting/shredding) resumes is illegal... a business needs to keep all resumes for 5 years. He claimed that he read this in the news a few years ago when was new & growing fast (they weren't sure what to do with the millions of spam resumes they received). He couldn't, however, provide me with any links.

I tried Google but couldn't find much info one way or the other. This law doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to me (what's the purpose of archiving resumes submitted by the general public? Why are they so special?). Has anyone heard of this and support/refute it (with a reference)?

Craig Walker
Monday, January 26, 2004

The reason is to provide evidence in employment discrimination lawsuits.

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, January 26, 2004

Which is the same reason many companies make you waste your time filling out applications...even if they have no intention of hiring you anyway.

Monday, January 26, 2004

In the US a company must be of a certain size for this rule to be applied - I believe it is 30 employees, but it may be smaller.

Additionally, there is little clarity in the law.  It says one must retain all resumes of applicants who are legitimate (that's not the correct word but the word used is equally vague).  The question is, does one retain all resumes or only those that meet the specified job criteria, or only those who are applying for a posted job, etc.

Different companies have different interpretations of what is required and there has not been a legal case to determine this.  So while this is something to be aware of, I don't believe it affects Joel's situation (company size), nor does it necessarily affect most companies (as they can scrap most resumes that don't meet their definition of a legitimate applicant - which includes the spammed resumes).

Monday, January 26, 2004

Lou's right that the law on this is as clear as mud.  There are several different federal civil rights statutes that impose record-keeping requirements, but their language tends to be rather vague.

Here are some "cheat sheets" that might help:,4621,310171,00.html

To err on the side of caution, it's probably best to hold on to resumes for at least two years.  Of course, consult an attorney if you need specific advice.

Robert Jacobson
Monday, January 26, 2004

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