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

UPDATED: Jun 14, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

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 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.

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