I have been instructed by legal affairs that non-contact after rejection is the safest choice for avoiding discrimination lawsuits. whether or not this is true, too much direct disobedience of management and legal usually results in starting ones own job search...
There's the AGG (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz) in Germany. It's enough to not include the feminine form of a job title or feminine pronouns in a job advertisement to sue the company after a rejection because of discrimination if you happen to be a woman. Instead of the gender, you can of course also assert the rejection was because of race, age, sexual orientation and so on.
(German legislation) I don't know the sources (probably many court rulings, not a law by itself), but I have heard that quite often: don't explain why a person was rejected, just say that you're sorry.
Back when we were looking for developers, I did my best to contact everyone we decided not to hire. There was one guy that simply would not accept my rejection and demanded that I explain why we felt he wasn't a good match.
I got rid of him eventually, but I can easily see such a conversation ending in lawsuit-enabling remarks by me. Hiring, especially non-hiring, is a lot about gut feelings, and those might be tricky to explain legally.
So I would say it's definitely safer to keep quiet.
When I have been hiring, I make sure to inform candidates that aren't hired. If I have been far enough with them that we actually met, I have so far always offered to explain why they weren't picked, over the phone. Not only do I think it's a decent thing to do, but it also forces me to be very conscious about what I'm selecting for, since I know I may have to explain it later.
I've had some awkward conversations as a result of this, but nothing I regret.
I'm fully aware that this doesn't scale well, but it works fine for me.
I wonder why this is seen as being an effective way of mitigating the risk of discrimination lawsuits? At some point, whether you explicitly tell them or not, the candidate knows they didn't get the job.
I can see where it might be problematic to go into reasons why they didn't get the job, but I'm having a hard time seeing what risks a simple notice informing them they didn't get it causes?
It's quite simple: Wording. Somebody might have gotten sloppy writing requirements for the new position, or HR may have misunderstood the requirements.
This may be enough to give the rejected applicant ammunition for a law suit. I've been to several interviews where I've had to dig out that what they say they're looking for doesn't match the position they actually want to fill.
I'm a straight, white male in my thirties, so discrimination is far from my mind. Other people may form different ideas, though..
Without a rejection letter you'd have to prove in court that you have been rejected in the first place. I imagine few judges will take such a case, otherwise people would be suing every single company for "rejecting" them by not actively recruiting them.
On the other hand, going silent after there already has been some communication established does not seem to be smart. But I am not a lawyer and there could be some sense in that too.
Sounds like legal affairs might not know exactly what they're talking about and playing it safe. Kind of like the consultant that says a 40 person company needs three Exchange servers or a mechanic who prescribes a new Johnson rod.
Depending on the legislation, of course, but I have seen many, many strange court rulings in Germany when it comes to employee rights (or wannabe employees). So I doubt its because of not known things.