By Donitta Booth
The quick answer – No! I can hear your objections already. Let me explain.
First of all, the definition of discrimination (that dirty word) according to Dictionary.com is “an act or instance of discriminating.” Don’t you just love when they use the root word to define the word?
If I knew what discriminating was, I wouldn’t need to look up discrimination! However, the definition continues “…or of making a distinction.”
I decided to go on to define distinction (I’m glad I did, it clarified the definition for me). Distinction (again, according to Dictionary.com) is “the recognizing or noticing of differences.” Any time we choose one thing over another – deeming it to be better than the other – we are discriminating. If I think one outfit looks better than another, I am discriminating.
If I choose to eat at McDonalds because I like it better than Burger King, I am discriminating.
So, how is it illegal? Here’s where we start to learn about something called “protected classes.” It is only illegal to discriminate against a “protected class.”
For this, I went to Wikipedia. “In United States anti-discrimination law, a protected class is a characteristic of a person which cannot be targeted for discrimination.
The following are considered ‘Protected Classes.’ Race, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age (40 and over, so it’s NOT illegal to discriminate against you young folks!), Sex, Familial Status (this is regarding housing; it’s illegal to discriminate for having children), Disability Status, Veteran Status, Genetic Information.
What’s important to know, in regards to job search, is that the hiring process itself is a form of discrimination. Legal discrimination!
Choosing one applicant over another because they have more skills, better experience, or would fit in at the office better; all of these are forms of discrimination.
However, as long as none of the “protected class” information is used in the decision, it’s not illegal. This is why most upfront, law-abiding employers don’t even want to know that information.
If it doesn’t affect your ability to do the job, they don’t need to know.
And that’s a whole ‘nother’ blog post!