Even in this day and age, discrimination is unfortunately alive and well in the workplace, as well as within the hiring process. We’re fairly familiar with the types of discrimination covered by federal Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older.
- Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), which prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.
- And there’s more.
According to Findlaw.com:
Under federal law, an employer cannot illegally discriminate in its hiring process based on a job applicant’s race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, or religion. State and local laws may specify additional protected classes based on factors such as the sexual orientation of a job applicant. Employers must abide by anti-discrimination laws at each stage of the hiring process, from placing a job ad, to interviewing, to the final selection of the candidate to be hired.
And, although not covered by any laws, there’s also the hot topic of “employment status” – meaning employers give preference to employed people, as if just being employed makes them a better hire! This was recently covered on MonsterThinking.com: Employment Discrimination and the Hiring Process: Legal Gray Area? We Think Not. I also think not.
Another type of hiring discrimination
But there’s another kind of discrimination NOT covered by any law or hot ethical debate. One that’s based on career stereotypes or simple personal prejudices. And I bet every single one of you at some point comes across some form of it. What is it? It’s a type of discrimination related to otherwise perfectly fine work experience that may show up as baggage during the screening process. Things like:
- Worked in government so private industry thinks you’re lazy
- Worked in non-profit, so private industry thinks you’re too touchy-feely
- Worked in investment banking, so non-profits either think you’re a horrible human being or worry you’ll dump them as soon as your “real” work comes back
- Worked in New York City so how can you relate to people on the West Coast?
- Worked in a particular role and employers/recruiters can’t see how your old skills could transfer nicely to the new job
- Worked as a union rep and now – especially now – almost no private industry employer will touch you
The last example is real and comes from Nikki, one of our readers. She wrote to share some of the discrimination and ongoing frustration she’s been facing just trying to get someone to give her a chance, despite ample qualifications. In reading her comments, I was impressed by her attitude and determination to keep going – temping in the meantime because that’s paying the rent.
I just want to share some of her words, since I think others might relate. Here’s what she said about how she handles the waiting process:
“I apply. Put my very best forward. I get it or I don’t. I have opened my search to include other cities and states AND I plan on doing some consulting. I made some career mistakes (ie my fear of leaving the union job) but I am not damaged goods and I have a lot to offer so I don’t get down on myself too much anymore. It’s the loss of the company and EVERY job seeker should feel like that Don’t let your employer (current or potential) destroy your sense of self.”
Amen Nikki! Thanks for sharing that with us. I wish you much luck finding the right employer who recognizes a good thing when he sees it – and who can think beyond simple straight lines. And I wish the same for all of you.