What Is Hiring Discrimination?

Discrimination is sometimes age-based.
In some cultures, hiring discrimination is not considered offensive.
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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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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.


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.

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.


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