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Context: I've been working as an IT specialist for > 15 years (some years full time in the office and last few years as a freelancer) and have a higher education degree in IT. I have Asperger's and comorbidities of a bipolar and anxiety disorders.

I had job several interviews in a US company (I'm not a citizen nor resident of US, but they knew that and the job was supposed to come with H1B visa), and they repeatedly rejected me for no apparent reason (for at least 3 times).

Q: Is it possible to file a lawsuit against them for job discrimination?

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    career tip: when a company rejected you once, then it is usually pointless to apply again at that company, unless it's for a completely different job which requires a completely different skillset. – Philipp Nov 15 '16 at 14:47
  • @Philipp, I think that taking more attempts is better then less. – XenoMind Nov 16 '16 at 4:01
  • @XenoMind Most things I've read tend to disagree, though I guess that's off-topic for this site. – Someone Somewhere Nov 16 '16 at 6:36
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You can file a lawsuit of course. The question is whether you have any evidence whatsoever that they didn't hire you because of illegal discrimination. As you say yourself, they didn't hire you "for no apparent reason". It is entirely legal not to hire you "for no apparent reason". Without evidence of illegal discrimination that court case will go nowhere.

Consider that there are jobs where 100 people apply, and a dozen people are interviewed. Getting not hired three times, when 12 people got interviewed, is just normal. If the same 12 people were interviewed at each job, then you and eight others were rejected each time, because there were 12 good enough to be interviewed, but only one job. Not being hired three times is nothing. Maybe instead of thinking of lawsuits, you might think of some training to do better in interviews.

So not only do you not have any evidence of illegal discrimination, it's not even reasonably likely that there was illegal discrimination. Are you really claiming that all the three times where you didn't get the job you were the best possible applicant that was there? Did you check who got the job? Maybe it was a gay black jewish woman in a wheelchair who was just exceedingly good at her job?

The point is really: Belonging to some protected class doesn't give you a right to get the job. It gives you a right not to be rejected because you belong to that protected class. It doesn't give you a right not to be rejected for any other reason. And being rejected without being given a reason is no proof, not even an indication, of some illegal discrimination going on. The most obvious and common reason for rejection is that out of all the applicants, you were not the best.

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    @XenoMind gnasher729 is right. It is very hard to show wrongful failure to hire. Most wrongful failure to hire cases involve (1) an openly discriminatory advertisement, (2) a rejection letter that states an unlawful reason, (3) an insider tip, or (4) someplace that hires lots of people presented with fake candidates with identical resumes who differ only in prohibited characteristics. Most discrimination cases involve failure to promote or wrongful firing where the person suing has access to inside information from co-workers and established by getting hired that he or she was qualified. – ohwilleke Nov 15 '16 at 14:37
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    @XenoMind: Sometimes employers are stupid. But you completely misunderstood what I said: It's illegal to not hire you for some illegal discriminatory reason (and not tell you the reason), but it's legal to not hire you for no apparent reason. Some manager said "I throw half the applications straight in the bin unread - I don't want to hire people who have bad luck". That's legal. – gnasher729 Nov 15 '16 at 15:02
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    @XenoMind I've seen both (1) and (2) happen. (2) often happens via email or text message. Situation (4) is usually done by a government agency like the EEOC after it has received tips that an employer is discriminatory. – ohwilleke Nov 15 '16 at 16:28
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    They don't have to prove anything. All they have to do is find someone who they think is better than you, or decide that nobody is good enough for the position. – gnasher729 Nov 15 '16 at 16:49
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    @XenoMind If there is a very stark difference between hiring rates for ethnically or otherwise different people with identical resumes that is enough to make a prima facie case of a pre-text which the employer can then try to disprove and the agency can at that point subpoena the businesses written communications, depose people who work there, get statistical information on hiring, etc. If 99% of hires are white, 90% of applicants are not, and multiple hire/not hires have identical resumes, the agency may convince a jury that they are lying; but if the jury believes them, the agency loses. – ohwilleke Nov 15 '16 at 16:51
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In the United States, the general rule is employment is at will. You can be hired or fired for any reason or no reason at all.

Over the last half century some exceptions to the general rule have developed.

To be successful in a discrimination claim, you must prove that your failure to be hired falls into one of those exceptions.

Not being a citizen/lawful permanent resident/asylee/refugee is generally a legitimate grounds for not hiring.

  • "Not being a citizen/lawful permanent resident/asylee/refugee is generally a legitimate grounds for not hiring." - not in the case when a working visa is supplied by the employer. I think I've seen a case when ADA was used by a guy who wasn't a citizen or resident. – XenoMind Nov 16 '16 at 3:00
  • You have to be hired before you can get a visa from an employer. – user3344003 Nov 16 '16 at 14:31

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