Headphone-wearing Job Applicant Alleges Discrimination

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‘Phoney’ job applicant?

An unsuccessful applicant for an account executive opening at Macro Surety Analysts, an insurance risk management firm, says the company’s failure to hire him constitutes discrimination against his headphones, which he refused to remove during his interview.

“I wear headphones when I work, everyone I know wears headphones when they work, and I’ve been told that Macro Surety employees often wear headphones at work, so to be discriminated against in the hiring process because I wore headphones to the interview is a clear violation of federal equal opportunity rules and the national goal of equal opportunity in the workplace, says Joseph Bernard, 24, who’s put the issue of headphone discrimination on the front burner with his claim filed yesterday with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Bernard worked as an account executive with a previous employer and “got rave reviews” from his bosses, he says. What’s more, says Bernard, he was clearly the front-runner for the job based on the quality of his application and his “perfect fit” with the job as outlined in his resume. “So, the only explanation for my not being hired comes down to my headphone use, even though I could hear everything the interviewer said as plain as day,” he says.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005USBH/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00005USBH&linkCode=as2&tag=mediab-20&linkId=QFTLSHDHXBZBSOUFBernard said the interviewer, Theresa Blaines, didn’t say anything about his headphones, although she did, in his mind, look at him expectantly. In fact, she appeared to delay starting the interview, a delay, Bernard alleges, was to give him time to remove his headphones. “But she never said squat about it,” he said.

“The interview turned out to be a total joke,” he said. “She had by all appearances decided within the first two minutes of shaking my hand that she wasn’t going to hire me. Clearly it was because of my headphones, and, significantly, the company has never denied that the reason was my headphones.”

An attorney for Macro Surety, in response to the EEOC claim, issued the following statement: “Macro Surety is proud to be the risk management company of choice for many of the largest insurance companies in the United States and takes its hiring practices with the utmost seriousness. It abides by all federal laws, including federal employment and equal opportunity laws, and, as it does in connection with any pending legal matter, has no further comment.”

Terrence McCaulton, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the case is an important one, because it raises a novel legal question about whether an employer can base a hiring decision on an applicant’s refusal to remove headphones during the interview process. “Today’s young adults are rarely without their headphones, and an argument can be made that they think better with their headphones on, since they grew up doing their homework while wearing headphones. So, can the plaintiff in this case make a plausible case that he can interview better while wearing headphones? Yes, I think that’s entirely possible. So, there is a legal question to be decided here. I think this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court.”

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional article not meant to be taken seriously. Photo: jj (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of image.

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