State and federal anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from engaging in discriminatory acts against employees based on their protected characteristics. These laws also prohibit discrimination by employers against applicants. The protection against discrimination is a critical right for applicants and employees. While it is illegal for employers to engage in discrimination against workers based on their membership in protected classes, many employers still illegally discriminate. Here is some information from Swartz Swidler about discrimination in hiring that you should know.
Employers that engage in unlawful discrimination might also discriminate against applicants based on their protected characteristics. However, this type of discrimination is often subtle rather than overt. Some of the signs of potential hiring discrimination might include the following:
- Job advertisements purporting to exclude certain people
- Inappropriate questions during interviews
- Demeaning communication
- Making references to age or disability status
- Choosing someone with fewer qualifications than you for the position
- Offering lower pay than others with similar qualifications for the same type of position
In some cases, employers might show discriminatory motives in their advertisements. For example, if a restaurant advertises it only wants young, attractive females to apply for server positions, that could be evidence of unlawful discrimination in its hiring practices. Asking about your age or making comments about a real or imagined disability and stating that you might not be right for the job based on those characteristics might be another indication of discrimination. Asking certain types of questions during an interview might also indicate an employer is engaging in hiring discrimination.
Hiring Discrimination and Interview Questions
When you are called in for an interview, the prospective employer might ask you some questions that make you wonder whether or not they are legal. If an interviewer asks you about your marital status, religion, national origin, ethnicity, race, or familial status, you might feel uncomfortable.
While an employer can ask these types of questions during an interview, it can’t base a hiring decision on your answers to them. For example, if an interviewer talks about their children and then asks if you have children, that likely is simply the interviewer trying to get to know you better. By contrast, if the interviewer asks about children and then makes a statement about how employees are expected to prioritize work over family obligations, that might indicate some problems.
An employer might decide against hiring you for different reasons other than your protected characteristics. For example, an employer might decide against hiring you based on your salary requirements, your experience, or similar issues. Even if you have protected characteristics, choosing not to hire you for those types of reasons is not considered discrimination.
By contrast, asking questions about your background and your desire to have children might seem like small talk, but they can be inappropriate and might lead to discrimination. If an interviewer asks you these types of questions, try to determine the interviewer’s intentions and answer accordingly. If the interviewer and you have built rapport during your interview, and the interviewer has told you similar information about himself or herself, it might be okay to answer. However, if you feel uncomfortable answering personal questions during an interview, you can simply tell the interviewer that you would prefer to discuss your professional qualifications for the position rather than your personal life in a polite way.
What to Do if You Suspect You Were Discriminated Against by a Prospective Employer
It can be hard to determine whether you have been discriminated against during the hiring process because most employers don’t share the reasons for denying employment with the applicants. Most employers tell applicants they reject that they have decided to choose a different candidate without providing a reason.
In some cases, an applicant will not be the right fit for an employer. It doesn’t automatically mean that you were rejected for a job because of your protected characteristics. Employers are allowed to hire the applicants they believe will be the best fit for their jobs. They can hire someone who has less experience if they believe that they could fit in better with the office environment or could be easily trained for the position.
Employers might argue that you weren’t hired simply because the person they chose was a better fit. An employer might argue this even if the true motivation for not hiring you was discriminatory. The prospective employer might state that you didn’t connect with the interviewer or made some type of error during your interview. However, if you have evidence that the employer discriminated against you, you can choose to file a discrimination claim. You will need to make sure that you gather enough evidence of discrimination to support your claim, which makes it important for you to consult an experienced discrimination lawyer. An attorney can review what happened and help you understand your rights and legal options.
Get Help from Swartz Swidler
Workplace discrimination is much more common than many people realize. Unfortunately, many employers engage in illegal discrimination against both applicants and employees. If you believe that you were discriminated against based on your protected characteristics during the hiring process, you should speak to the experienced lawyers at Swartz Swidler. We can help you understand the legal merits of your claim and your next steps. Call us today for a free case evaluation at 856-685-7420.