Can a city discriminate by not hiring a city council member’s child?

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Can a city discriminate by not hiring a city council member’s child?

My son wishes to work part-time during the summer at the parks and recreation department. I’m a city council member. The city charter prohibits hiring a member’s family. Is this legal? My son is an all A student and I had nothing to do with the hiring process.

Asked on June 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A common misuderstanding or misconception is the belief that discrimination in hiring or employment is illegal. As a general matter, it's not--the only discrimination which is prohibited is that which is against certain legally protected categories. For example, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age (over 40), sex, or disability is not allowed. However, apart from specifically protected categories, employers may "discriminate" in that they may refuse to hire on any of  a number of criteria. One common criteria, which is widely supported and logical, are rules against nepotism, since this helps prevent unqualified persons from gaining employment just because of their relations. While this undoubtedly does sometimes hurt deserving people, rules like the one you describe are not against the law and are commonly accepted.


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