Can an employer refuse to hire based on another employees feelings toward a potential candidate?

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Can an employer refuse to hire based on another employees feelings toward a potential candidate?

I have 3 companies that are giving me issues about hiring me. I have a 5 year old boy to raise and no current employment due to a move. The only reasons that they are not willing to hire me is 1 employee that works with them either does not like me or we share the same last name but no relation or issues.

Asked on June 19, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, this is legal: employment is "employment at will." Employment at will means that an employer may refuse to hire someone for any reason which is not illegal discrimination, such as refusing to hire someone because they are a woman, or because of their religion, or because they are disabled, or over 40, or because of their race.

(Note: an employer can refuse to hire an African American, a woman, a Jew, a disabled person, or an older person--they simply can't refuse to hire them *because* they are African American, Jewish, disabled, over 40, etc., but rather need a different reason, including, as discussed below, personal dislike.)

"Any" reason in this context is literally *any* reason that is not discrimiantion. That includes because someone working there already doesn't like the prospective employee, or because someone "heard" something bad about her. Unfortunately, unless you can show illegal discrimination aimed at you because of a protected characteristic (like race, religion, or sex), there is usually no way to challenge a decision to not hire you.


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