What to do if someone who was less qualified was hired instead of me?

I recently interviewed for a position that was advertised as preferring a certain amount of experience in which I exceed as well as a specialized certification which was also listed as a preference. I didn’t get the job but ended up meeting the person who did and this person just finished the education program needed and has zero experience in this field, in fact had not passed the national exam necessary at the time of the interviews. I have asked the employer what the reason for not hiring me was and got a vague, blanket answer. Is there anything illegal about this situation? Do I have any rights in this situation or actions I can take?

Asked on November 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you need to focus not on why the other person was hired but why you weren't. If it was due to some form of actionable discrimination then you might have a claim. For example if you are in a protected class and where treated differently because of it. So if you weren't hired because you were a woman or a Muslim, then you you could sue for employment discrimination. However you gave no indication of this to be the case.

Absent discrimination (or violation of existing company policy, an employment contract, or union agreement), an employer can hire or fire as it deems fit, as well as set just about any other term or condition of the workplace. This is known as "at will" employment.

Note: Legally protected classes in WA are those based on membership due to: race, creed, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age (40+), disability, retaliation, sexual orientation/gender identity, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.