Can I use a fake last name to apply for jobs?

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Can I use a fake last name to apply for jobs?

I have a strong feeling that despite being born and well educated in the USA, my Islamic last name is preventing me from getting a single call for an interview. Can I use a more American sounding last name on my resume and applications? If so, how far can I use this fake name until I have to use my real last name along with my SSN?

Asked on June 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you apply under a fake last name, you will be committing fraud against your employer; since you will have to provide your real name when it is time to do various official paperwork, including tax withholding, when it comes out that you lied to your employer, the employer can dismiss you "for cause" (no unemployment compensation) and could potentially sue you for any costs (e.g. recruiter fees) incurred in hiring you.

If you are believe you are being denied a job opportunity due to an Islamic-sounding last name, report it to the NJ Divsion on Civil Rights: the NJ Law Against Discrimination prohibits employment discrimination due to ancestry, national origin, and religion (federal law also prohibits discrimination due to religion); you may have a legal claim.

Another option, one which was taken by many people in the past, though it's fallen out of favor, is to legally change your last name to one that is more "American sounding." I am not saying that you have to do this--morally and legally, you are entitled to not be discriminated against--but it is an option that used to be fairly widespread and is worth at least considering, especially if you think you might at some time move to a different state, since many states do not offer nearly as much protection from discrimination as New Jersey.


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