Lawrence N. Lavigne, Esq., L.L.C.
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Hiring discrimination remains a challenge for African-Americans

The job market in New Jersey and other parts of the country is just as difficult for African-American candidates today as it was 25 years ago according to a study published recently by the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers from Harvard University, Northwestern University and Norway's Institute for Social Research came to this sobering conclusion after submitting 55,842 applications for 26,326 positions.

The researchers recruited Caucasians, Latinos and African-Americans to apply for vacant positions and also submitted resumes with ethnically identifiable names. They discovered that white candidates received 36 percent more callbacks than African-Americans and 24 percent more callbacks than Latinos. These figures are very similar to the results of similar workplace discrimination research conducted in 1989. The outcome remained unchanged after factors such as gender, education, labor market conditions and geography were taken into account.

Other studies have also revealed that racial bias is worryingly common during the hiring process. Researchers have found that resumes from job candidates with ethnic sounding names are routinely set aside by company gatekeepers even when the qualifications and experience listed are identical to resumes that generated a callback, and a linguistics professor found that merely sounding white was often enough to secure an interview. However, researchers are rarely willing to blame findings such as these on overt racism. Instead, they say that the difficulties ethnic minorities encounter in the job market are largely due to unconscious bias.

Allegations of racial profiling can be ruinous to a company's reputation. Attorneys with experience in this area may be aware of this, and might encourage employers to settle workplace discrimination lawsuits discretely to avoid negative publicity and a wave of similar litigation. Attorneys may also remind employers of the severe consequences they could face for violating the provisions of federal laws like the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

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