Are White Males Victims of “Reverse Discrimination” in Employment?

A recent survey by ResumeBuilder reports that fifty-two percent of hiring managers surveyed believe that their companies use “reverse discrimination” against white applicants when making hiring decisions. Among the 1,000 hiring managers surveyed:

  • 16% were told to deprioritize white men when evaluating candidates
  • 48% of them have been asked to prioritize diversity over qualifications
  • 53% of them believe their job will be in danger if they don’t hire enough diverse employees
  • 70% of them believe their company has Diversity Equity Inclusion (DEI) initiatives for appearances’ sake

This survey highlights that diversity-inclusion programs may create a risk of “reverse discrimination” claims. The Me-Too and Black Lives Matter movements have led to a heightened awareness of injustices in our society and the need to rectify historical and ongoing discrimination against marginalized communities. Employers nationwide are expanding their diversity and inclusion initiatives in all areas of employment decision-making, including hiring, compensation, and promotions, to combat racism and inequality. There is a growing tension, however, between the laudable goal of eradicating and remedying discrimination and the risk that efforts to obtain those goals are in and of themselves a form of discrimination.

Recent cases have highlighted the tension between diversity initiatives and claims of reverse discrimination. Google has been accused of favoring women and people of color in its internal hiring policies by giving them extra interviews and a streamlined hiring process. An in-house lawyer with Electrolux filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that he was denied a promotion to General Counsel because the company was in the midst of a diversity initiative that expressed the preference for sex/gender as a “distinguishing and beneficial characteristic.” And a white male executive of Novant Health was awarded $10 million by a federal jury in North Carolina in a lawsuit claiming he lost his job due to efforts to diversify top leadership positions.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall stated in his 1976 opinion in The Santa Fe Trail Transportation Company case that “racial discrimination in private employment against whites [must be] on the same terms as racial discrimination against nonwhites” and denounced “the illogic in retaining guilty employees of one color while discharging those of another color.” White male victims of “reverse discrimination” are increasingly using this argument in the courts to protect their rights. Lawsuits by white males alleging reverse discrimination are on the rise.

If you believe you have experienced discrimination during hiring processes or during your employment, please reach out to Pechman Law Group PLLC at 212-583-9500 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.


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