Sam works as a driver for Toxic Games Warehouse, a wholesale distributor and online retailer of video games and accessories. Over a ten year period, Sam repeatedly applies for and is denied a...

Sam works as a driver for Toxic Games Warehouse, a wholesale distributor and online retailer of video games and accessories. Over a ten year period, Sam repeatedly applies for and is denied a promotion to the position of dispatcher. Sam meets the requirements for the job, which are a year's driving experience and a specific license. After one interview, Sam overhears the interviewer tell a co-worker that Sam, who is white, didn't get the job because whites are lazy. Is this discrimination? Explain.

Asked on by berty63

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In the case that you describe here, discrimination has probably occurred, but it is not at all clear that such discrimination can be proven.

Discrimination in hiring and promotion occurs when a person is treated differently than other people with the same qualifications solely because of their race, sex, or other prohibited characteristic.  If the person who interviewed Sam is telling their coworker the truth, this is what has happened to Sam.  The interviewer clearly stated that Sam’s race is the only thing that is preventing him from being promoted to the position of dispatcher.  If we assume that the interviewer was passing along accurate information, Sam has clearly been treated differently than nonwhites who have the same qualifications.

However, discrimination will be hard to prove for two main reasons.  First, it is not necessarily true that that the interviewer is telling the truth.  The interviewer may be expressing a personal opinion as to why Sam keeps being rejected.  Alternatively, the interviewer might be joking around or might be misinformed.  In all of these situations, there would be no discrimination.  Second, even if what the interviewer said is true, Sam will have to get more proof.  The interviewer (and the person they were talking to) could simply deny having said what Sam claims to have heard.  Sam will need to find clear proof in the company records that discrimination has occurred.  This may be hard to do.  Sam will, at the very least, have to prove that the percentage of whites who apply for dispatcher jobs and are hired is lower than the percentage of non-whites who apply.

So, on the face of it, this looks like discrimination, but it may not be.  Even if it is, it may not be provable.  

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