Can you be refused a job because of your name?

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Can you be refused a job because of your name?

I asked the manager that interviewed me if she could give me feed back for why I didn’t get the job. She said it was because she already had someone working there with the same name, so it would be too confusing.

Asked on March 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It depends.  Most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". Accordingly, a person can choose to work for an employer or not; and an employer can hire or fire a person for any reason or no reason.  While seemingly unfair it's the law. The exceptions to this would be if this action was not allowed by virtue of an employment contract, union agreement, or company policy.  Also, discrimination must not have played a role in a person not being hired.  Specifically, workplace discrimination occurs if someone who is in a "protected class" is given less favorable treatment because of their membership in that class.  The following characteristics are considered "protected classes" for which persons cannot be discriminated against: race, color, religion, national origin, age, sex, disability, and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, gender identity, and "familial status" (e.g. married vs unmarried; parent vs childless). So, for example, if you weren't hired because you had an Hispanic name that is actionable discrimination.  But if you were not hired because you have the same name as somebody else, that is not discrimination.  Granted it seems a rather poor reason for not hiring someone but it is legal.


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