Is It Legal For Me to Be Passed Over for a Job Because of My Accent?
Categoriesaccent reduction in business
If you have an accent from your first language, then you probably have experienced an uncertain moment in a job interview where you wondered if your accent might hinder your chances at consideration. It is an unfortunate reality in the business world that our appearance, communication skills, and interviewing skills can impede our professional qualifications from getting proper consideration. While it is an unfortunate reality, many have wondered, is it legal to be passed over for a job you’re qualified for because of your accent?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from national-origin discrimination. Disqualifying a candidate due to an accent could be misperceived as this type of discrimination. Title VII even has a section specifically about accents that says, “In assessing whether an individual’s accent materially interferes with the ability to perform job duties, the key is to distinguish a merely discernible accent from one that actually interferes with the spoken communication skills necessary for the job.”
In deciding whether you’ve been discriminated against, it is important to look at the position you are being considered for and the level at which oral communication is essential for that role. For instance, if you were being interviewed for a help desk position where speaking would be an essential function of the position, your accent could play a part in the decision legally. If you are easy to understand and rarely are asked to repeat yourself, your accent should not be considered to “materially interfere” and you should have equal consideration for the position based on your experience and skill set. However, if you are asked to repeat yourself regularly, then it could be a reason to not hire you.
All of that being said, if you are being considered for a software engineer role, delivery driver, or other position where your oral communication skills are less essential, the strength of your accent should not be considered in the hiring process.
At Carolina Speech Services, we are here to help you reach your personal and professional goals. If neutralizing your accent could help you reach those goals, we want to help. With our accent reduction program, we can lower your accent by 50% which can make a big difference if you are on the job market or you are trying to climb the ladder at your current organization. If you are curious, take our online assessment to see if accent modification is right for you, or call today! 704-845-1605