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How Can Clicks on a Job Site Reveal Hiring Discrimination?

March 28th, 2022
Delaware County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Protect the Rights of Job Applicants.

Whether you are searching for a job or submitting an application for employment, online job postings and job sites offer a wide variety of potential positions. Online resources can do a great job of aligning qualified job candidates with open positions. Online job sites often rely on algorithms to access an applicant and determine whether that applicant is a good candidate for the position.

Algorithms are what you likely have heard of referring to search results on Google and other online search engines. The algorithms basically monitor a particular internet platform and rank and categorize results based how programmers created them. Whenever the human element comes into play, so does the potential for discrimination, even in a virtual world.

Many people use the internet to apply for jobs. Online jobsites post millions of applications for jobs every day. The large volume of applications for specific job postings makes it possible to study the results to locate any kind of employment discrimination that might occur.

Big Data Enables Online Job Search Analysis

Every second of every day, the online world records massive amounts of digital data. The very large number of electronic devices that are connected to the internet produce massive amounts of digital information that generally is referred to as “big data.” That data enables close study of online job portals to detect any potential for discrimination in job searches.

Researcher with ETH Zurich, which is a public research university located in Zurich, Switzerland, recently conducted an observational study of potential discrimination at online jobsites. The results generally showed male and female job applicants and immigrants in new lands face discrimination. That ways in which they do can vary.

The three general hiring factors that should apply are experience, professional job skills, and level of education relevant to the advertised job opening. In reality, those factors often take a back seat to gender, ethnicity, and national origin. But even those discriminatory factors can vary greatly from a variety of conditions.

It is important to note the researchers only studied Swiss-based job boards. Therefore, the results in that study do not necessarily mean you could face similar issues in the United States. However, the study does help to affirm that even seemingly objective online job postings often face discriminatory scrutiny.

Time of Day Triggers Discrimination

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says it is unlawful to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her national origin. If a candidate is qualified and available, the prospective employer cannot withhold an employment opportunity solely because of the applicant’s national origin. Just because someone might dress differently, have an accent, or observe religious or other cultural practices from another nation is not a valid reason to deny employment.

The ETH Zurich study shows that immigrants in particular face hiring discrimination during certain times of the day. The later it is in the workday, the more likely an immigrant job applicant will be refused a job opportunity because of national origin.

The study says hiring managers and human resources personnel in Switzerland who access online applications later in the workday were approximately seven percent less likely to reach out to immigrants than Swiss applicants despite having equal skills. Immigrants from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Balkans were most likely to be subject to that late-day discrimination.

The researchers said that national origin is especially impactful from noon until the end of the day. The same job recruiter could be less discriminating against those same applicants during the morning hours. The difference in selection rates shows the same recruiters change how they assess candidate qualifications because of the time of day and national origin.

Cross-Gender Discrimination Affects Both Sexes

The EFT Zurich study shows discrimination occurs to members of both sexes when it comes to hiring decisions. The discrimination usually occurs to women who apply for jobs that recruiters might consider to be one that men traditionally fill. That same type of discrimination occurs when men apply for jobs that recruiters typically consider to be occupations filled by women.

If you are a woman and apply for a job as a truck driver or in the construction industry, for example, you stand a much lower chance of getting contacted by a recruiter. And if you are a man who applies for a job as a nurse or other position generally regarded as being a field for women, you stand a stronger chance of being declined.

The ETH Zurich researchers say women are seven percent less likely to land a job in a field dominated by men. But women are 13 percent more likely to get contacted by a recruiter for a vacancy in a field dominated by women. The research indicates a stronger bias against men applying for jobs in fields dominated by women than there is a bias against women seeking jobs in fields dominated by men. 

Some fields have extreme biases against one gender. For example, women who apply for jobs for skilled forestry fishery and hunting workers are especially vulnerable to gender discrimination. ETH Zurich says about half of the women applying for such positions are likely to encounter gender discrimination and not be contacted even when fully qualified.

Any Hiring Discrimination Is Illegal

Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 outlaws hiring discrimination and other types of job discrimination. When gender or national origin costs job opportunities for qualified people, that is against federal law. It also violates state law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination both make it illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on gender or national origin as mentioned in the ETH Zurich study. The respective state laws also ban other kinds of workplace discrimination and hiring discrimination based on age, race, political affiliation. and other discriminatory factors. When violations occur, you can file complaints with respective state agencies for investigation. If the discrimination is affirmed, the states can impose penalties on the liable parties.

You also could file a federal lawsuit against the offending parties for violating Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. If a federal judge or jury agrees discrimination occurred, you might obtain a sizable settlement.

Proving Discrimination in Lawsuits

It is possible to successfully file a federal complaint for hiring discrimination and other kinds of workplace discrimination. To do so, you must provide evidence that:

  • You are part of a protected worker class.
  • You were qualified for the position.
  • The employer rejected your employment application.
  • You were passed over in favor of someone who is not part of a protected class.

When you file a federal complaint for hiring discrimination, the defendant employer has the opportunity to respond. If it can show that you were passed over for a job opportunity in favor of a more qualified candidate, that employer might win the case. If that employer cannot show a valid reason for not considering your employment, you might have a successful claim for hiring discrimination.

An experienced employment discrimination lawyer can be a great asset for gathering evidence and helping you to present the strongest possible case. A strong case does not mean you get hired by the offending employer. But it could result in punitive damages and a significant financial settlement for damages.

Delaware County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Protect the Rights of Job Applicants

The ETH Zurich study very clearly shows how discrimination occurs during the hiring process. If you are a victim of hiring discrimination or any other kind in the workplace, the experienced Delaware County employment discrimination lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C., can help you to build a strong case. Our skilled legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey and Southeastern Pennsylvania, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, Northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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