Recruitment through word-of-mouth referrals is not a new employment practice. In fact, many companies give their employees incentives when successfully referring recruits.
However, this practice can be considered discriminatory in certain instances, which results in discrimination claims against the employer.
When it results in an exclusive workforce
When an employer recruits by word of mouth in specific communities, resulting in a workforce exclusively comprised of a certain group or class based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and so on, it shows unfair or prejudicial distinction in hiring. For example, when all new hires are male due to word-of-mouth recruitment by the employer’s existing male-dominated workforce, then it may be a ground for a discrimination claim.
Why exactly is it discriminatory?
Word-of-mouth hiring practice that leads to a nondiverse workforce is considered a barrier to equal employment opportunity. It does not give other applicants a fair chance just because they are not part of the community where word-of-mouth recruitment is being held. It is especially discriminatory if it shows that the employer is using the practice to eliminate minority applications.
How can you address this as a discriminated applicant?
If you are experiencing discrimination in any part of your employment process, there are remedies available for you. Nevertheless, you have to first solidify your claim, which starts with gathering evidence mainly in the form of documentation. Your next move will depend on the facts and circumstances of your particular situation. Exploring options with an experienced attorney can help you proceed confidently.