What to do about employment discrimination in hiring due to retaliation?

UPDATED: Jan 9, 2012

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What to do about employment discrimination in hiring due to retaliation?

I received an intent to hire letter from an employer I had worked for a couple of years ago. This notice identified me as the candidate they would like to offer the position to contingent upon my background check and references, all which came back glowing. Then during a phone conversation with the HR recruiter she eluded to a complaint I filed regarding my previous boss. After that I was told they were looking at other candidates and a couple of weeks later was finally advised they went with someone else. What can I do? This feels wrong.

Asked on January 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It may be morally wrong, but it is most likely not legally wrong. To begin with, I believe that the law only prevents an employer  from retaliating against an employee for complaints made against *that* employer--I do not believe that the law prevents prospective employer B from taking account of a complaint made against employer A in the past when making a hiring decision. Second, only a few specific complaints are protected anyway, even against the same employer--for example, complaints made about illegal discrimination (e.g. sex, race, religion, age over 40, or disability-based discrimination), or for failures to pay overtime or minimum wage, or for company violations of criminal law or safety regulations (e.g. whistleblower protection). There is no protection for many other complaints...so even in regards to the same employer, the law only provides limited protection for making complaints.

The key issue, though, will be the first one stated above--the law does not seem to protect you in regards to a complaint made against employer A when later applying for a job with employer B.

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