Is it an act of discrimination when the employer rejects your job application, given that you a) belong to a protected group and b) can demonstrate experience in all the essential job functions (as described in the job description) using the previous projects you have done, as much as it's possible objectively? For instance, the job description says "must have experience working with X, Y and Z" and you can prove that you have a lot of experience working with X, Y and Z.
If not, why?

1 Answer 1


As an interviewer and a hiring manager, I can safely say that you can be rejected for a position for many reasons, even if you meet all the criteria - there may simply be someone better than you that they have also interviewed.

Being rejected when meeting the criteria does not necessarily mean you were discriminated against, and in order to successfully claim discrimination you would have to show that you were rejected for a discriminatory reason. Very few companies hire the first candidate that they interview who has the relevant skills and experience - I have interviewed probably 60 candidates in the past 12 months for several positions, and we generally interview at least 5 or 6 candidates per position before making a decision.

We do not, and would never consider just hiring the first candidate who interviews that meets the criteria. Some of the people we reject are of protected classes and also met the criteria - but that doesn't mean we discriminated against them, they just weren't the best candidate we interviewed.

Being of a protected group and having the relevant skills and experience does not guarantee you the job, it just "guarantees" (in quotes because thats the intention of the law, and reality may differ - hence why discrimination cases do happen) that you cannot be rejected on the basis of the protected group.

If you were rejected because of the protected group, and you can show that (including obviously thin reasons such as withdrawing a position and then advertising it again the next week), then thats discrimination.

If you were rejected for any other reason, then that does not necessarily constitute discrimination. You could easily meet all of the criteria, have excellent experience but still come across as a candidate who would be difficult to manage (argumentative, lack of self-motivation, lack of attention to detail etc etc etc) and thus be rejected.

It's not all about simply meeting the criteria, which is why we interview rather than hire on the basis of someones CV and qualifications.

  • "and in order to successfully claim discrimination you would have to show that you were rejected for a discriminatory reason" - sounds impossible. How would you prove that?
    – seticer
    Jan 7, 2020 at 16:51
  • @seticer precisely.
    – user28517
    Jan 7, 2020 at 19:21
  • 2
    @seticer to expand on my earlier glib comment, essentially unless the company outright comes out and says its rejecting you for an unlawful reason then its extremely difficult to prove - you could seek to prove it via establishing a history of rejections of protected class applicants, and prove that the company has an odd trend of only hiring white males for example, you could also trick them into interviewing two candidates with almost identical CVs but have one be in the protected class and the other not and see who gets rejected consistently etc etc etc. But yeah, its difficult.
    – user28517
    Jan 7, 2020 at 22:22
  • sounds like the law is basically nonfunctional... However, the idea with two (or more) candidates is interesting. Sounds like some advocacy group possibly could pull this off.
    – seticer
    Jan 8, 2020 at 18:40

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