6 Bizarre Forms of Discrimination That Can Lose You a Job

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Asp-Z
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01 Dec 2010, 11:31 am

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Ever wonder why you never get picked for a good job? Hell, you've got all the requirements they need and you've got sex appeal. What's going wrong?

These are all questions we've been asking ourselves lately, and it turns out that, tired of the same old prejudices from previous generations, businesses are getting creative in their discrimination.

#6. By Your Handwriting

In this modern day and age, you would think that handwriting has become irrelevant in the workplace. Who cares if you dot your I's with love hearts? Who cares if you turn every "A" into a miniature penis? You've got a computer, and as long as you don't file all your business reports in Wingdings, then you should be fine, right?

Wrong. You may have a long list of degrees, experience in the industry and a reference from the president himself, but that might all count for squat if you work for one of the many companies around the world (including 3,000 in the UK alone) who hire graphologists.

According to those who study graphology, the way you write could indicate anything from your ability to solve problems in a group, to your likelihood of murdering your neighbor. According to science, this is not even close to true.

None of this has stopped believers from making incredibly important decisions based on handwriting analysis. If you think the company you work for would never do such a thing, keep in mind that they don't even need to let you know they're doing it, and because they probably know how crazy it sounds, they often don't.

The amount of information they think they can get on you from your handwriting is astounding. Hell, some graphologists even advertise the ability to catch cheating spouses. That's right, you can pay someone a ridiculous amount of money to analyze that sexually explicit note your girlfriend wrote to the gardener, and they'll tell you whether the way she crosses her T's indicates unfaithful tendencies.

Graphologists claim to have near foolproof methods to determine who's an alcoholic, who will be violent, who will steal and, in one especially bizarre case, a graphologist actually offered to identify potential child molesters working within the school simply by studying writing samples.

Add that to your cheat-sheet for a successful job interview: dress neatly, do your research and for Christ sakes make sure your handwriting isn't too rapey.

#5. By Personality Type (as Determined by Myers-Briggs)

It makes perfect sense to want to know the personality of the guy you're about to hire. You want to know if a potential employee is entirely self-centered, has no concept of responsibility and believes the word "sexist" is just a bizarre way women mispronounce "right." However, some employers are deciding who to hire and kick to the curb based on a personality test. Yep, just like the ones you've seen in the pages of "Cosmo."

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is one of the more common personality tests in the field. It's a multiple-choice test filled with a bunch of personal questions ("When making a decision, is it more important to you to weigh the facts or consider people's feelings and opinions?") that as many as 30 percent of American companies are using it to screen employees.

Oh, and it doesn't work at all. In one particular study, it was found that around 50 percent of those who take the test more than once get assigned a different personality type every time. While it's possible that this means there are as many multiple-personality sufferers out there as Hollywood would like you to believe, it's much more likely that these tests are about as reliable as tea leaves.

And there's no telling what kind of outlandish questions assessors may put on your test. The respected personality testing firms claim to rely on proven scientific methods (you know, the science of turning complex human beings into graphs and Venn diagrams). And even they admit that the business is mostly unregulated.

That means that one second you could be asked a vague question relating to your views and opinions on kittens wearing hats and the next, BAM! You're tagged as a potential rapist and end up writing comedy on the Internet instead.

#4. By Your Accent

This is one you won't find written down in an official policy, and it may not be intentional discrimination at all. But across America, people are constantly being hired by employers based on their regional accents. Not sure what we mean? Well, ask yourself if you'd feel just a little less confident if you were about to have brain surgery, and heard your surgeon talking like one of the cast of Jersey Shore, or maybe like somebody from the hills of Kentucky. Yes, on an intellectual level you know that talent and intelligence have nothing to do with geography. But stereotypes die hard.

That's why in a study done by the University of North Texas, people with Californian and Minnesotan accents were considered by far the most intelligent speakers, while people from Georgia and New Jersey were considered the least intelligent, despite the fact that all speakers were required to speak the same lines.

God help you if you're from New Jersey - they rank the lowest in all categories except one: they're perceived as exceptionally laid back. There's pretty much no occupation in the universe for which that counts as a plus. In business lingo, "Laid Back" is one unkempt beard away from "Laid Off."

The university took this study so seriously that it actually hired a non-Texan to record their voicemail so they could sound smarter, because when a Texan asks you to leave your name and number, all that an outsider hears is a rant about guns and gay marriage.

Likewise, the above study mentions a case where a woman was congratulated by coworkers for sounding smarter during a presentation after she altered her accent, as if ordinarily they could only picture her in a cowgirl costume, talking about business trends from atop a mechanical bull.

#3. By Blood Type (aka Bura-Hara)

Type "Japan" into the Cracked article search bar and hit "enter," and you'll find that we've probably written more about it than Batman and Tesla combined. Their weird approach to just about every aspect of day to day life helps us put bread on the table. The last thing we want is to come off as racist in an article about discrimination, so let's acknowledge that it is probably just our narrow Western sensibilities that make us think Japanese culture is ridiculous. That said, you can guess that if the Japanese are going to do workplace discrimination, they're going to do it their own way.

Bura-Hara is the Japanese practice of discrimination by blood-type. It's based on the myth that your blood-type determines your personality, proving again that people will spare no expense thinking up new ways to groundlessly wedge large tracts of society into a tiny box. Folks with type-O, they say, are more likely to be energetic and social, while type-B are just selfish, whiny jerks. Just like most of the new-age gibberish that passes through Oprah's book club, the appeal is in how scientific it sounds to the layperson.

While most people may only consider blood-type profiling to be just another horoscope novelty, it is becoming an increasingly popular way to discriminate against others. Even politicians, including the former prime minister, feel the need to state their type. Additionally, kindergartens are being split up based on blood-type, as are dating services. Perhaps worse, job seekers are now being asked their blood-type during their interviews. If you want to get a job in Japan, you really don't want to have type-B blood.

Of course, the whole thing's deeply rooted in Nazi ideology. When Hitler started trying to breed a master race, his allies absorbed some of the Nazis' extremely feeble grasp of science. The notion that blood-types determined personalities died out after the war... until the 1970s, when it was brought back into vogue by some absolute nobody who everyone decided to listen to for some reason. We're guessing he was type-B.

#2. By Height

Quick, think of every role Danny DeVito has ever played. Greedy, unpleasant used-car salesman; greedy, unpleasant con-man; greedy, unpleasant penguin mutant. It's not just because DeVito really is a creepy little dwarven bastard--though that may also be true. Remember all the times he played the foil to Schwarzenegger's tall, handsome, nice guy? It's because we subconsciously hate short people. No, really.

It's so bad that, for some reason, we imagine nasty people like Napoleon to have been really short, even though that's totally not true. And as some studies have already found, taller people are approximately 73 percent more likely to land a job when they're up against a shorter, but similarly qualified, applicant. This may also help explain why shorter people tend to earn less than taller people. It's estimated that shorter people earn around $800 less per inch per year.

As Volvo found, heightism and sexism can be rolled into one big discrimination extravaganza. A Volvo factory applied a minimum height requirement of 163 centimeters for all their workers. Not only did this get rid of all those pesky short people, but because this knocks out only one percent of the male population but a whopping 25 percent of the female population, it gets rid of all those pesky women too.

Also, in China, it's fairly common procedure to set height requirements for ordinary jobs. Also, they have a midget theme park there. So, there's that.

#1. By Your Astrological Sign

For a pseudo-science that's only survived because editors feel a need to fill the last page of the newspaper with more than just comics, it should go without saying that astrology is an utterly useless way of hiring people. But of course, that's such a Pisces thing to say.

India, for example, is crazy about it. The Indian Council of Astrological "Sciences" reports a growing trend in employers hiring astrology consultants to help them decide who to employ and who to fire. The best thing about this job is that you get to reap a fabulous paycheck for writing a bunch of gibberish like "If Mars is in the third house suspected by Moon and Mercury, one has a tendency to betray those who believe in him." Who is going to dispute that? Are you going to argue with science?

Austria goes a step further. Just last year, an Austrian company decided to hire people born under only five certain astrology signs. According to a spokesperson, it's not like they're a bunch of superstitious nuts; they're just using "the same scientific methodology for making their choices that medical researchers and sociologists routinely use all the time without any dispute or controversy whatsoever." There's that magic word again: science. It makes the most outlandish claims seem suddenly reasonable.

And how did the government react? They shrugged their shoulders and decided it's all above board. It's only a little bit of discrimination, after all, and besides, it's not like they've ever let someone's own crazy prejudices get out of control before. Wait, was it Hitler or Charlie Chaplin who was born in Austria?


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Moog
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01 Dec 2010, 12:06 pm

I just love the line at the end 'There's that magic word again: science.' Made me chuckle.


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deadinhead
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01 Dec 2010, 12:15 pm

crap ,I have serial killer handwriting :'(


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01 Dec 2010, 1:43 pm

I always thought the Myers-Briggs test was bulls***. Funny, frightening article.


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01 Dec 2010, 2:27 pm

Damn! I have an accent. I won't get the job, for sure.


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01 Dec 2010, 3:20 pm

having B-type blood, i'm very lucky to not live in Japan :)



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01 Dec 2010, 3:46 pm

Wasn't there a post not long ago about people on the spectrum having similar types of Myers-Briggs scores? If there ever is an official study, don't you know the Man will try and use that to discriminate against people with personality/neurological "disorders".


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01 Dec 2010, 3:59 pm

This is a wonderful example of why people in human resources tend to be single. Impossible standards.



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01 Dec 2010, 4:04 pm

Oh, that's just terrible...

I have small, 'type-like', controlled, sans-serif, uber neat handwriting. A lot of people mistaken it for photocopies or printouts. That would make me, what? Impersonal? That's how I find my handwriting...So...bad with people and social things and very calculated? Oh, that's me...

My personality type is broiled into one word: Paradox. I'm loud, I'm quiet. I'm introverted, I talk a lot. I'm smart, I'm gullible and ignorant. I'm happy, I'm sad. I'm just confused.

I speak very eloquently and neutral. I'm sorry if that bothers you. I will pronounce clothes as "cloTHes". I will have a large vocabulary, which I sometimes force myself to dumb down. I don't be usin' ebonics because it's grammatically incorrect. I speak as if I am reading and singing.

I don't even know my blood type.

Okay, I'm 5' 2, and can only blame THAT height because I love love milk. I can't help what my genetics gave me.

And I don't know my astrological sign.

Oh, so I'm not hired? Well you've just lost out on a very interesting workmate D:



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02 Dec 2010, 1:35 am

I was asked in an interview once what my astrological sign was. 8O



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04 Dec 2010, 12:30 am

If I ever get asked about my astrological sign, I'll just ask whether or not we're accounting for precession of the earth's axis. That'll shut 'em up :D



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04 Dec 2010, 10:08 am

I take all that as proof that life and interpersonal relationships are also confusing to NTs. :)



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05 Dec 2010, 10:43 am

i HATE those effing Myers-Briggs tests. just about every company i've applied to lately uses them. and it's very clear they're designed to be discriminitory to people with autism. it seems like even when i lie on them and give the answer i *think* i'm supposed to put, i get the "we're sorry, we cannot hire you at this time. we will keep your application on file" screens. whatever happened to talking to someone face-to-face?


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12 Mar 2011, 10:04 am

The MBTI is probably one of the least reliable tests of personality that there is. There's a good review of its properties in a book by Mike Smith called "Testing People At Work: Psychometric Competencies". This is the most recommended book for people taking the BPS's CCOT qualifications, levels A and B.

Worth looking at.



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12 Mar 2011, 11:35 am

My handwriting is small and sometimes illegible. I am an INFJ on the Myers-Brigg tests. I don't know my blood type, although it might be beneficial for my employer to know it considering I work in the food industry and have already stabbed halfway through one of my hands while putting a carving knife away. I'm an Aquarius and am 5' 4.5". I wonder what that says for me.



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12 Mar 2011, 7:28 pm

Asp-Z wrote:
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Folks with type-O, they say, are more likely to be energetic and social


I am O+ and I am neither energetic or social---that system would surely backfire on them in my case!