Recently, my company did not hire someone primarily because she was the sister of a former employee that did not leave on good terms. Of course they tried to frame this in a different way, but the reason was obvious. Is this legal? I’ve tried to look up federal laws on the subject, and I’m wondering if this type of action falls under illegal discrimination, since the person’s non-hiring was based solely on her family relation to the former employee.
First of all, illegal discrimination is quite limited. It’s not illegal to discriminate against family members. In fact many, many companies have policies against hiring family members of current employees. I’ve never seen one against hiring a family member of a former employee, however, that doesn’t mean it’s illegal. I’m not a lawyer, but family-member-of-former-employee-who-left-on-bad-terms is hardly a protected class.
That said, unless you were in on the hiring discussions you can’t know for sure that this happened. Why did they bring her in for an interview if they weren’t going to hire her, based on her relative? That makes absolutely no sense. If they refused to interview her, the relationship could have been behind that, but have you checked the unemployment rates lately? Honestly, if I had 300 candidate resumes (not unusual lately) and one was the sister of the psychopath we had to fire two years ago, I wouldn’t put her as my top choice unless her qualifications were so phenomenally above the other 299 people.
And that’s my point right there: Yeah, it’s possible that her relationship hurt her, but there are so many people for each available job that it’s not likely the only reason.
It’s so much easier psychologically to blame your failure to get a particular job on something that is out of your immediate control–age, gender, marital status, children, sexual orientation, weight, etc. I’m not saying that people are never discriminated against in these things, but I am saying that more often then not there is another reason for the lack of a job offer.
If you spend time dwelling on the things that are out of your control, then you don’t have to face the things that are in your control. Right now, with huge numbers of candidates, it’s even more important to have your resume, cover letter, and interview skills perfected.
Yes, it’s a bummer this woman didn’t get this particular job. Her sister’s bad behavior may have contributed to it, but it’s time to move on.