Advice » Job Hunt Strategy» Getting Started » If You Suspect Hiring Bias
If You Suspect Hiring Bias

If You Suspect Hiring Bias

This article offers general information on legal matters relating to employment. For specific information relating to your situation, please consult an attorney or appropriate government agency. 

It may not happen as often as it used to, but many forms of bias in hiring persist in companies of all sizes across the nation. Fortunately for American workers, a number of protections are available to them.

Hiring discrimination complaints range from gender to pregnancy status, race, ethnic group, religion, age and genetic background. Many complaints are brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Related laws include the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (an amendment to Title VII) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Hiring discrimination against women is a key problem that isn't going away. The segregation of the sexes persists in many occupations. “Most women do the jobs that they've always done,” says Linda Meric, director of the Colorado chapter of 9to5, The National Association of Working Women. Indeed, about 96 percent of secretaries are women, while only 2 percent of electricians are female, according to Jocelyn Samuels, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, DC.

Between fiscal year 1997 and fiscal year 2010, the number of sex-based complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ranged from a low of 23,094 in FY 2005 to a high of 29,029 in FY 2010, with claims rising noticeably starting in FY 2008. Hiring bias isn't the most common form of employment discrimination, “but there are plenty of examples of discrimination in hiring,” says Vincent Alfieri, a partner with Bryan Cave LLP in New York City.

Bias Is Hard to Prove

“Hiring discrimination is in some ways difficult to uncover,” Samuels says.

Some poorly trained or ill-intentioned hiring managers will ask illegal questions. Eyeing an applicant's wedding ring, an interviewer might ask, “So you're married?” -– an implicitly illegal question. More likely, a question will cross into a gray area. Upon discovering that the interviewee went to the same university, another interviewer might ask, “When did you graduate?” Since age can often be inferred from the answer, a court or investigating agency might find illegal intent in the question.

Consider the HR Department

“If someone is denied a position and they have a feeling it could be discrimination, I encourage them to contact the employment office and ask for feedback on the interview,” Meric says. If the human resources department's response is unsatisfactory, women are urged to call 9to5's hotline, which gives out information on applicable state and federal laws.

“If asked by an applicant about the company's employment audit, a well-trained HR person will be willing to talk about the process openly,” says Alfieri. In some cases, “the human resources department may investigate and possibly grant another interview,” says Barbara Gault, director of research at the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, DC.

But an applicant risks alienating an employer when questioning a company's hiring process. Therefore, many individuals who suspect discrimination bypass the company itself.

Start with the EEOC or a State Agency

After the HR department, the next step is to approach the EEOC, which has a mandate to investigate all complaints of employment-related bias. You could also contact a state or local Fair Employment Practices Agency.

Before initiating a lawsuit, most individuals must bring their complaints to the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged offense. After the EEOC investigates, it may attempt to get the two sides to settle, award compensation to the individual, give the individual permission to sue in court, or dismiss the case for lack of evidence of discrimination or on technical grounds. In 2009, the EEOC rejected nearly 61 percent of bias claims, because it found insufficient evidence.

For Some, a Lawsuit Makes Sense

Dissatisfied with what the EEOC has done for them, some individuals elect to take their complaints to court. “A court can mandate that the employer hire you for the job denied you, give you back pay, and award punitive damages or damages for pain and suffering,” says Samuels.

But a lawsuit comes with costs. “Litigation is time-consuming and expensive unless you get pro-bono representation,” says Gault. On the other hand, “you might end up with better employment or get the employer to change its ways.”

Whether or not to pursue a hiring-bias complaint is a very personal decision with potentially vast implications for your career. After an applicant has a questionable interaction with a prospective employer, it's best to take some time and discuss the matter with a qualified advisor before taking action.

Latest Jobs

American Council on Exercise
Posted: 06/30/2015
San Diego, CA, 92123
Prestige Staffing
Posted: 06/30/2015
Austin, TX
Synchrony Financial
Posted: 06/30/2015
Alpharetta, GA, 30005
Posted: 06/30/2015
Sarasota, FL, 34232
Posted: 06/30/2015
Robertsdale, AL, 36567

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.12.0.54-316