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What is Hiring Discrimination?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

Hiring discrimination is the act of showing preferential treatment to certain groups of people over others when choosing employees. People are sometimes discriminated against on the basis of factors like race, lifestyle, age, or gender, and many countries have laws against this practice. Sometimes hiring discrimination can involve only hiring people from one group, and in other cases, it might only involve the suggestion of a bias towards certain positions for certain groups. In a legal sense, hiring discrimination can even be something that is implied by the way an applicant is interviewed.

At many points in history, hiring discrimination has been an accepted practice, and in many cultures, it was never considered offensive. In some places, this is still true, especially for certain groups. The people who are discriminated against are usually different from the majority in some way. It can be nationality, for example, or some kind of racial difference. The kinds of discriminatory practices in different areas will often vary based on the particularities of the culture.

Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
Discrimination is sometimes age-based.

Women who are pregnant often have a lot of difficulty with hiring discrimination. It’s also often true that companies may choose to avoid hiring a woman because it is possible for her to become pregnant, meaning she might someday quit to take care of her children or at least request some time off. A bias against pregnancy has also been blamed for lessened female promotions along with lower wages. In some countries, there are laws that mandate equal treatment of women in hiring, and some places also require paid leave for women when they become pregnant.

In some cultures, hiring discrimination is not considered offensive.
In some cultures, hiring discrimination is not considered offensive.

Sometimes people suffer with hiring discrimination because of disabilities or age. Employers can occasionally have trouble determining what the law requires regarding this type of discrimination. It is sometimes true that a disabled or elderly person may not be able to adequately perform a job, and in those cases, it is often legally acceptable not to hire her. In the United States, there are laws regarding how disabled and elderly people are interviewed. For example, it is generally acceptable to ask someone if she is capable of performing the tasks required for a job, but it is usually not acceptable to ask someone whether she has a disability that will stop her from performing the tasks.

People sometimes suffer hiring discrimination because of something in their lifestyle or physical appearance. For example, smokers, obese people, and people of certain religions may be discriminated against by employers. People are also often discriminated against because of sexual preference, and in some cases, individuals may be forced to hide their sexual preference from employers to avoid hiring discrimination.

Discussion Comments


What about nepotism and favoritism? It happens all the time. People hire their friends and family members, even if others are just as qualified or even more qualified. I think this is discrimination but it is rarely spoken about.

I just interviewed for a job. One of the other applicants clearly knew the employer from before. More than likely, that person got the job. It's unfortunate, but that's how it works. People call it networking, but it's nepotism and favoritism. It's a form of discrimination really.


@ddljohn-- But I saw a study recently, that was done in 2013 or 2014 and it said that hiring discrimination is till very much present in the US. Apparently, a white individual with a high school degree is more likely to get hired than a black individual with a college degree. And women still do not hold as many administrative jobs as men and when they do, they don't make as much money as men who do the same job.

So unfortunately, I'd say that we are far from eliminating hiring discrimination in the US. It's a battle that continues. But I can't deny that Americans are still better off than people in other countries, especially developing countries when it comes to employment and equality.


The US is possibly the best place when it comes to preventing hiring discrimination. We have anti-discriminatory laws that prevent employers to hire based on race, religion, gender or health. If discrimination occurs people can sue. We are much ahead of many other countries where discrimination is almost systematic.

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    • Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
      By: dundanim
      Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
    • In some cultures, hiring discrimination is not considered offensive.
      By: Dmitry Vereshchagin
      In some cultures, hiring discrimination is not considered offensive.