job apps must be available on request?

Back in the day when I worked at a regional restaurant chain, I was told we must provide job applications for anyone who asked for it. Refusing to give one out was a violation of some federal law. (this was in Missouri)

Now the kid really wants to work at the local hardware store (common franchise name…has something to do with playing cards). When she asked for an application she was told they don’t have any available, they aren’t accepting applications and she won’t get one. The same thing happened when I tried to get an application myself a few weeks later. (this is in Wisconsin…if it matters)

So was I incorrectly told about the “requirement” to provide applications? Is this company in violation? Or (more likely) was what I was told somehow misconstrued from what is reality?

It’s not a law to provide it, it’s sometimes a company policy.
If you always accept applications, you are harder to sue for employment discrimination.
It’s a bogus CYA measure, not a law.

Were you always hiring at the restaurant chain?


I’m an HR person and this is my understanding of the legal issues, but IANAL. The requirement of federal law would be that applications be made available in a non-discriminatory manner (based on race, sex, age 40+, and other federally protected characteristics).

One way a company might choose to do this would be by making applications available at all times. However, a company might also comply by only making applications available when it has a position open, and making them available to anyone at that time.

The 2nd way is less costly. The first way is more costly, beyond the cost of the paper an application is printed on, because all applications need to be stored and tracked, and if positions are rarely open that effort is a waste for all concerned. The 2nd way is perhaps slightly more legally risky, but if administered fairly and honestly/accurately is not to my knowledge illegal based on any federal law. The legal risk to the company is that a front line employee might more easily discriminate by saying there is no position open when in fact they are hiring.

From the perspective of a single applicant, discrimination would still be quite difficult to prove. However, if it were a pattern of all minority applicants being turned away it would be possible to build a case against the company.

Since the applicant is described as the OP’s daughter, perhaps she thinks she is being discriminated against due to being young. Protection against age discrimination for people under 40 is all at the state, not federal, level.