Discrimination in Hiring Is Always Bad. But It Might Not Always Be Illegal

Eluned Anderson received a rejection email from a job application. That part is normal. What isn’t normal is why the hiring manager rejected her. The email contained this explanation:

It was decided that your strong Welsh accent, accompanied by your regional activities, would not suit the office environment.

This is a weird reason to reject someone, and if you’re in the US, it could also be an illegal reason to reject someone. It could also be legal–so here’s the difference for employers in the United States.

To keep reading, click here: Discrimination in Hiring Is Always Bad. But It Might Not Always Be Illegal

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13 thoughts on “Discrimination in Hiring Is Always Bad. But It Might Not Always Be Illegal

  1. I know this isn’t the point, but I’d like to know what the strong regional activities are. If this were the US, I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised by someone not getting a job due to a heavy accent, I’d be more surprised by a company actually putting the reason in writing. There’s a reason why most rejection letters are fairly generic – e.g. We have decided to move forward with another candidate.

  2. Yeah, I wondered about the regional activities, too. But, what is a “Black accent,” or a “gay accent”?

    1. A glance at the Twitter account suggests…uh, Holocaust education and labor issues? Uh, oh…no?

    2. The “Black accent” is the inner city ghetto sounding speech pattern sometimes referred to as “ebonics.” It’s not inherently connected to skin color, and certainly not universal even in inner city ghettos, but it’s the stereotype, as accurate (or not) as any stereotype.

      “Gay accent” is more about mannerisms, as a rule, and tone of voice. We’ve all seen the stereotype on TV of the flamboyantly effeminate gay man or the butch lesbian. Even less accurate than most stereotypes, perpetuated by Hollywood, but the stereotype is associated with homosexuality, and not hiring someone for it could easily be viewed as illegal discrimination.

      1. What’s “ghetto sounding”? I’ll admit that, growing up in Detroit, I did notice that a lot of Black people spoke differently than white Detroiters. However, then I moved to Texas and realized that what I thought of as Black speech was just the Southern accent common to Southerners of all races. Most African-Americans are descendants of enslaved individuals, who by and large, lived in the American South.

        1. Watch a rerun of any TV show from the 70s or 80s with black characters. That’s the stereotype.

          1. I’m familiar with the demeaning stereotype, ridiculously exaggerating the speech of poorly-educated Southerners; I’m old enough to remember Amos and Andy on radio. However, I’ve never encountered anyone — of any race — who actually spoke that way.

  3. Clearly the person sending the rejection letter is inexperienced. I learned a lot in my early career by mistakes. Fortunately, not something this severe. If the rejector survives, s/he will learn also.

  4. I visited Wales once. Lovely place. I pride myself in being able to decipher thick accents, but I could not make heads nor tails of the accent of a few of the locals I interacted with. Not saying it’s right, of course.

    1. Were they speaking English with a Welsh accent, or were they speaking Welsh?

      Are you certain you could tell the difference?

      Are *they* certain they can tell the diffence?

  5. The book “How You Say It: Why You Talk the Way You Do—and What It Says About You” by Katherine D. Kinzler covers discrimination regarding speech and national origin. It’s a good exploration of the way we speak and how others respond.

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