Discrimination in the hiring process: do I have a case?
The 2007 financial crash and subsequent recession has created a highly competitive environment for finding and retaining jobs in America. Where employers used to compete for talent amongst themselves; Americans now find an environment where a single job opening may draw hundreds of qualified applicants. This environment makes it difficult to tell if an applicant was rejected for legitimate reasons or for discriminatory reasons. However, discrimination in the hiring process still occurs and it occurs frequently. This type of discrimination can be based on several different characteristics and if you feel you may have been discriminated against while applying for a job, read below to see if you have a case.
Knowing if you have been discriminated against in the hiring process
In order to prove that you have been discriminated against you must show that 1) you are part of a protected class; 2) you applied for and were qualified for the job; 3) the job was not offered to you; and 4) the employer continued to seek applicants with similar qualifications.
The relevant statutes that protect against discrimination are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Generally, to be protected by these statutes you must have been discriminated against based on your race, gender, national origin, disability, or religion. In certain jurisdictions in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny County, you are also protected if you were discriminated against based on your sexual orientation or sexual identity.
Qualified for the job
You must show that you have the necessary qualifications for the job. If you did not meet the employer’s stated qualifications it could be more difficult to prove you were discriminated against. If you were rejected for a less qualified candidate it will make your case stronger.
Job was not offered to you
This is an easy requirement to meet. As long as you were not offered the job you can move forward with a case of discrimination. If it was offered to you and you rejected it, you will have no case.
Employer continued to seek qualified applicants
As long as the employer continued to seek qualified applicants you can move forward with the case. This is most obvious when the employer actually hires someone who is outside of the same protected class as you. If they hire someone just as qualified as you, and in the same protected class, you may not have the evidence to support an action. This area is strongest for your case when the employer hires someone outside of your protected class who is also less qualified. If the employer simply did not hire anyone and stopped looking to fill the position, this will usually destroy any presumption of discrimination.
The strength of your case
You may have a discrimination in hiring case if you are part of a protected class, qualified for the job, the employer never made you an offer and the employer continued to seek other applicants. The presumption is strongest when someone outside of your protected class and less qualified than you was eventually hired by the employer. If you feel that you have been discriminated against in hiring please contact the attorneys at Kraemer, Manes and Associates for advice and a free consultation.