What Job Seekers Need to Know About Discrimination

Searching for a new job in Los Angeles, Orange County, or elsewhere in Southern California is difficult enough, but it is much worse when you encounter hiring discrimination. Despite having strict state and federal law against it, many job seekers experience discrimination, and it can impact their personal as well as professional life.

Just like workplace discrimination, there are laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of protected characteristics.

In this article, we will cover what hiring discrimination looks like, give examples, and detail how applicants can avoid falling prey to it. We’ll also tell you what to do if you are a victim of hiring discrimination in Los Angeles, CA or the surrounding area.

What Is Discrimination During Hiring?

Hiring discrimination occurs when an employer makes an unfair hiring decision based on the applicant’s religion, color, place of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, genetics, or age. It can also happen based on an individual’s disability.

As per Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is unethical and unlawful for an employer to refuse to hire any individual or restrict their employment benefits because they belong to a protected class.

There are different types of hiring discrimination job seekers may experience. It’s essential for all workers to learn them in order to protect their rights.

Types of Biases During the Hiring Process that Are Discriminating Against the Applicants

There are multiple types of discriminatory practices that take place in the workplace across Los Angeles and Orange County and each of them is unlawful. If you are able to recognize or spot discrimination during the hiring process, it will help you prevent recruiters from acting unlawfully against you.

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination

One of the most common hiring biases is discrimination based on someone’s race or skin color. Laws, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, were put into place to prevent such activities by an agency or employer.

The law prohibits employers from not hiring employees just because they belong to a certain race. For example, if an agency refuses to hire a more qualified applicant because they are black, it is known as racial discrimination.

It can also be based on an individual’s inherited traits such as hair type, height, facial features, and more.

Age Discrimination

Hiring an individual based on their age is a type of hiring discrimination. Some job roles, however, require people of a specific age bracket. For example, a job operating heavy machinery requires the applicant to have agility and good eyesight or a job serving alcohol requires the applicant to be over 21.

If the job role has nothing to do with age, then the recruiters cannot discriminate against the applicant based on their age. As per ethical hiring practices, the employer should take into account the individual’s skills and experience rather than their age.

Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination during hiring happens when the recruiters refuse to hire someone because of their physical or mental disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as “a person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment”.

For example, an individual with a walking disability can do a desk job like data entry or coding. However, if the recruiter fails to employ them because of their disability, it may qualify as disability discrimination during hiring.

✍️ Note: 

Distinguishing between disability discrimination and other reasons for not hiring the employee can be difficult, and it might prevent you from filing a charge against the recruiters. 

In such cases, you can contact Hershey Law and our highly experienced Los Angeles discrimination lawyers will help you evaluate the possibility of discrimination. Call us at (310) 929-2190 for a free case evaluation.

Sex or Gender Discrimination

Sex discrimination can happen before employment as well; some individuals experience it during the hiring process. It is a type of discrimination based on someone’s gender or sexual orientation.

For example, an employer fails to recruit a female applicant because they worry about them taking maternity leave. Or they refuse to hire a qualified gay man because they disagree with their sexual orientation. There are several laws that prohibit gender discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, and sexual harassment in the workplace and during the hiring process.

Discrimination Based on Country of Origin

In states like California, employers cannot discriminate against job seekers and employees based on their ethnicity or country of origin. Refusing employment to an individual because they are from a different country qualifies as an unethical and unlawful hiring practice.

Other Discriminatory Reasons for Rejecting Job Applicants

Job seekers being treated differently based on other protected characteristics like religion or genetics also classify as discriminatory hiring practices. Hiring discrimination, irrespective of its type, is illegal and the employment law in California gives job seekers the right to take action against it.

Do you think you are a victim of hiring discrimination and do not know what to do? Contact Hershey Law for the best discrimination lawyer – Los Angeles and Orange County.

Types of Hiring Discrimination

There are different types of discrimination during hiring. Sometimes it’s direct, and sometimes it’s subtle. Knowing each type will help you recognize it and take action so you can get the job you deserve without falling prey to discriminatory practices.

Direct Discrimination

Direct discrimination consists of obvious behavior, such as treating an individual or group differently because of certain characteristics. This can include gender discrimination, age discrimination, and racial discrimination.

Direct hiring discrimination is evident, and job seekers can easily identify it.  For example, if you were asked to sit in a different row or were asked to wait for longer than other job applicants even though you arrived earlier than them, it could be direct discrimination.

Indirect Discrimination

Also known as subtle hiring discrimination, indirect discrimination includes introducing policies and rules in the hiring process that can put an individual or group at a disadvantage. For instance, if a business posts a job requiring applicants to be “native” English speakers, this discriminates against people of different nationalities.

Unintentional Discrimination

This type of discrimination is based on unintentional prejudice, for example, when someone uses certain terms and offensive words to describe a person of a different culture and ethnicity without realizing they’re insulting the individual.

Examples of Discrimination in Recruitment

Now that you know about what hiring discrimination is and what its types are, here are some examples of how it might actually look. Every job seeker should know about how recruiters can discriminate against them to prevent it from happening.

Discrimination Through a Job Advertisement

Despite strict California law against it, you’ll occasionally find job advertisements that exclude certain candidates from protected classes. Most commonly, an unlawful job advertisement is tailored as direct discrimination against certain applicants.

For example, the ad copy may specify that people of a particular age, race, gender, or another criterion cannot apply.

Recruitment Software Automation Bias

Nowadays, most recruiters use software to screen candidates, and even this is not free from bias. For instance, a recruitment tool might be designed in a way that filters some particular applicants based on their age, race, or religion. As a result, recruiters do not receive applications from such potential employees, so there are fewer chances for such candidates to get the job.

Interviewer Bias

Interviewer bias is the most common type of hiring discrimination that job seekers experience in California. Sometimes hiring managers or recruiters might display behaviors that point to a conscious or subconscious bias against a given applicant.

This means that their behavior might be against the particular applicant because they belong to a certain protected class and not based on their skills.

Targeted Job Ads

Most employers these days use online job portals with dozens of filters, and as a result, they create job ads based on personal preference. In 2019, Facebook, along with 66 other companies, was accused by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of discriminating against a certain group of applicants in their job offers.

6 Questions Recruiters Aren’t Allowed to Ask You

Unlawful discrimination in interview process

Determining whether you are a victim of hiring discrimination can be difficult, especially when it is subtle. We have curated a list of eight questions that employment law prohibits recruiters from asking applicants.

  1. Are You Married?

The law prohibits recruiters from asking martial-related questions. Most recruiters might be tempted to ask this question to find out if your relationship status can have a negative impact on the job.

For example, if you are married, there are higher chances of you taking parental leave or quitting the job if your spouse gets a transfer to another city. As per the EEOC, a simple question like “Do you wish to be addressed as Miss or Mrs.?” is not allowed.

  1. What Religion Do You Practice?

Inquiries about religious beliefs are an extremely sensitive issue. Sometimes recruiters are curious to know about a candidate’s religion to determine how many days off they might need. Or if the candidate will be unavailable on specific days because of their religious obligations. This vein of questioning qualifies as hiring discrimination because it may impact a candidate’s employment.

  1. How Old Are You?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 is there to protect candidates over 40 from being discriminated against in the workplace. This does not explicitly forbid recruiters from asking age-related questions that are important for the job role.

However, if such questions do not relate to the duties of the job, then they may qualify as hiring discrimination. Candidates below the age of 40 are not protected by California law from discrimination based on age.

  1. Do You Have Any Disabilities?

It may sound that this question is necessary to determine if the candidate will be able to perform the required duties, but the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits recruiters from asking such questions.

Recruiters cannot discount a candidate from the hiring pool because of their mental or physical disability, provided it has nothing to do with the duties and responsibilities of the job.

The law also prohibits employers from asking if an applicant has had any past operations or illnesses.

  1. Are You an American Citizen?

Immigration status and citizenship cannot be used against a candidate during the hiring process, as per Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). However, recruiters can ask potential employees if they are authorized to work in the United States and provide essential documents, such as a work visa.

  1. Are You Pregnant?

Asking questions about family status mostly affects women, but they also pertain to men in some situations. Employers often have concerns about an employee taking pregnancy leave or not having appropriate childcare arrangements during work hours.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 is there to prohibit recruiters from refusing to hire pregnant women or female candidates who might become pregnant.

However, it is sometimes lawful for recruiters to allay any concerns they might have regarding an employee’s commitment or availability to take a position by asking about long-term career goals or their ability to work overtime.

Employment Laws that Protect You From Hiring Discrimination

There are several state laws and federal laws that prohibit employers or recruiters from discriminating against candidates. It is important for every job seeker or employee to know about these laws in order to protect their rights.

Equal Pay Act

The Equal Pay Act means to deter sex-based compensation discrimination between women and men who work under similar circumstances doing duties and fulfilling responsibilities that require equal effort and skill. For example, employers cannot offer a smaller salary to women applicants as compared to men.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

This act outlaws discrimination against candidates that are over 40. The act covers all employers operating in Los Angeles and Orange County with over 20 employees. It lays out the pensions, benefits, and retirement plans these candidates should get.

If the recruiters refuse to hire someone because of their age, even if it does not impact the job role, the ADEA offers the job seeker protection against discrimination.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) ban discrimination against otherwise qualified candidates who have a disability or are associated with someone who has a disability. Recruiters cannot treat these candidates or applicants differently because of their physical or mental disability.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act allow employees to be off work unpaid with their job protected to take care of a new baby or to look after a sick family member. This act makes it illegal for employers to take adverse actions against a worker if they are pregnant or there are some other serious health circumstances. It also prohibits recruiters from refusing to hire someone if they are associated with someone who needs medical care.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Performing background checks before bringing on new employees has become essential in many industries. However, it should not involve checking someone’s genetic information. Enforced by EEOC, this act prevents recruiters and hiring agencies from discriminating against job seekers based on their genetic information.

Recruiters can neither ask an applicant about their genetic information, nor they can conduct a background check that involves the individual’s genetics.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act was crucial in making it illegal to discriminate against applicants because of their race, religion, color, national origin, or sex. The federal act specifically addresses firing, hiring, paying, and other employment-related actions.

The act covers all state and local government agencies, private businesses, educational institutes, and other employers with at least 15 employees.

What to Do If You Experience Discrimination During Hiring?

Most applicants think that they cannot do anything if the recruiters refuse to hire them based on being a member of a protected class. However, that is not the case. You can take legal action against the agency or employer for discriminating against you.

Here are the steps you should take if you think you were discriminated against:

Ensure You are a Victim 

The first step should be ensuring that you are a victim of discrimination during hiring. There is a fine line between discrimination and regular behavior, so being sure is important before you take things further.

If you are unsure about your situation, you can contact a Los Angeles discrimination lawyer from Hershey Law. One of our experienced attorneys will help you evaluate the circumstances to determine if you are a victim.

Gather Evidence 

To prove these charges, you need evidence. This could be any kind of written record, such as job ad copy or online posting that discriminates against applicants based on any protected characteristic.

Negotiate with the Employer 

In some cases, you can negotiate with the potential employer to get all the benefits you deserve as per federal law. With discrimination lawyers on your side, they can negotiate on your behalf with the legal team of the employer.

File Charges 

With the help of Los Angeles discrimination attorneys, you can file a workplace discrimination claim.  Your discrimination lawyer will take care of everything, such as preparing and reviewing the filing papers, organizing the evidence, and representing you in negotiations or court to ensure the best outcome of your discrimination case.

Contact Hershey Law If You Suspect Unlawful Discrimination During the Hiring Process

Discrimination during hiring is unethical and unlawful, therefore, you should take a stand against it. At Hershey Law Firm, we understand that hiring and employment discrimination can impact your current and future employment so we are proud to offer employment law services to help.

Our professional attorneys have years of experience and can handle all types of employment discrimination complaints. We will work diligently to prove your allegations and bring you the justice you deserve.

Whether you know or suspect you are a victim of discrimination, you can call us for a free case evaluation. Speak to our expert attorneys at (310) 929-2190 today to learn more!