Carnegie Mellon Study Finds Employers Use Facebook to Discriminate Against Muslim Applicants

The fact that businesses use Facebook to screen job candidates for inappropriate behavior is well-known. However, some qualified job seekers may also face discrimination based on profiles that reflect solid, professional conduct, but that indicate adherence to the Muslim faith:

  • Researchers in a recent Carnegie Mellon University study created fake résumés that led to bogus Facebook pages if an employer searched the Web. Each of the four profiles indicated the candidate was either Muslim or Christian and either gay or straight. So the employer would identify these traits, the researchers incorporated profile clues, such as religious quotes and references to activities that revealed the religious faith and sexual orientation of the candidate.
  • The fake résumés were sent to 4,000 potential employers nationwide that advertised job openings. Employers located in the 10 states with the highest Republican votes called 17 percent of the Christian candidates and only 2 percent of the Muslim candidates. The disparity was less pronounced, but nonetheless measurable, in less conservative states. The study found no difference in the number of interview calls to gay or straight applicants.

The Carnegie Mellon study underscores the findings in the Department of Justice 2011 Conference report Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era: Challenges and Opportunities Ten Years Later. The authors investigated the problems Muslims have faced since the World Trade Center terrorist attacks occurred more than a decade ago. Hate crimes directed toward Muslims have receded after an initial spike immediately following the tragedy. However, employment discrimination against Muslims remained steadily high and reached levels above the 2001 rate in the final years of the study, 2009 and 2010.

The Department of Justice Report relies on Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints to calculate employment discrimination numbers. But, the Carnegie Mellon study indicates that discrimination often occurs under the radar, subjecting job candidates to unlawful hiring practices.

If you were not hired because of your faith, speak to a New York City employment law attorney about your rights.

 

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