What Is Hiring Discrimination?

Hiring discrimination is an unfortunate reality for many job applicants. Hiring discrimination occurs when an employer makes a hiring decision based on factors unrelated to the job requirements. The decision may be based on race, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other irrelevant factors. Employers might use personal preferences or biases instead of qualifications, skills, and ability in deciding whom to hire.

Examples of hiring discrimination include:

  • Biased job postings: If a job posting includes language that systematically excludes a certain group of people based on their race, gender, religion, or age, it can be considered discriminatory. For example, a job posting that requires candidates to be a certain age or have a specific gender may exclude some qualified applicants.
  • Unconscious bias during interviews: During job interviews, unconscious biases can come into play. Hiring managers may make assumptions based on the candidate’s physical appearance, cultural background, or accent.
  • Racial or gender profiling: Employers may also engage in racial or gender profiling by asking invasive, unjustified questions or making inappropriate comments during the hiring process. For instance, a hiring manager might refuse to consider women or people of color for certain jobs because of stereotypes or biases against those groups.
  • Wage discrimination: Employers may also discriminate against certain groups by offering them lower wages or less-desirable benefits. For example, women or people of color may be paid less than their white, male peers for performing the same work.
  • Inaccessible recruiting practices: Some recruiting practices, like relying exclusively on personal referrals or recruiting through networks that are predominantly white or male, may inadvertently exclude qualified candidates from underrepresented groups.

Here are some examples of actions that are not necessarily hiring discrimination, but may still be unfair, inappropriate, or may feel like harassment to certain individuals:

  • Choosing the best candidate: It is not hiring discrimination to choose the most qualified candidate for a job, even if this means some candidates are left out. For instance, selecting someone who has more experience, better references, or a more extensive skill set, is not discriminatory as long as these requirements are directly related to the job duties.
  • Seeking out candidates with particular skills: Similarly, it is not discriminatory to seek out candidates who have particular skills or qualifications that are essential for the job. For example, if a job posting requires specific technical skills, it is not unfair to exclude candidates who do not meet those requirements, regardless of their ethnicity, age, or gender.
  • Conducting background checks: It is typically legal to conduct background checks on candidates to confirm their criminal history, educational background, or employment history. However, employers must ensure that they apply the same standards to all potential new hires and not just to those from certain groups.
  • Refusing to hire someone for a legitimate reason: Employers may refuse to hire someone if certain circumstances make them unsuitable for a job. For example, someone with a criminal history that is relevant to the job may be turned down, or someone who fails a drug test might not be considered for a job that requires a drug-free workplace.
  • Hiring someone based on personal connections: Many employers rely on social networks and personal referrals to identify job candidates. Although this can sometimes disadvantage groups, it is not inherently discriminatory if employers cast their net broadly enough and do not exclude qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds.

What Job Applicants Can Do if They Face Hiring Discrimination?

If you are an applicant and suspect you are facing hiring discrimination, you can file a complaint with a government agency, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC’s job is to investigate complaints of discrimination in the workplace based on any protected characteristic of the employee, such as age, race, color, religion, gender, or nationality. You can also speak directly to the recruiter or consultant responsible for the hiring process, ask what criteria they used in making the decision, and explain why you feel discriminated. Another approach is to seek legal help.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC Can Protect Your Rights at Work

Many people know employers cannot discriminate against them at work. However, employers are also prohibited from discriminating during the hiring process. If you have faced hiring discrimination, speak with our South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC today. Call us at 856-235-7075 or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we serve clients in South Jersey, including Cherry Hill, Burlington County, and Camden County.