A group of sociologists recently conducted experiments in New England and the Southern United States to determine whether the inclusion of a religious identifier on a resume affected an applicant’s chances of getting hired. The sociologists found that applicants who included a religious identifier on their resumes decreased their chances of getting hired both in New England and in the South.
The experiment entailed sending out thousands of resumes with identical qualifications but with different indicators of the applicants’ religious beliefs. For instance, some of the resumes said that the applicant had been a member of his university’s association of Catholic students.
In New England, the sociologists found significant levels of discrimination against Muslims and, to a lesser extent, atheists, pagans, and Catholics. However, on the whole, the sociologists found that the level of religious discrimination in New England is relatively low. They thought this relatively low level of discrimination was likely because of New Englanders’ relatively low level of religiosity and high amount of religious tolerance.
When the sociologists ran the same experiment in the South, however, they found much higher levels of religious discrimination. Interestingly, they found significant levels of discrimination against an applicant who included any type of religious identifier on his resume, regardless of the religion. They attributed this result to their theory that people tend to not want to mix religion with work. “On the one hand, we have a high tolerance of religious freedom and diversity, people are free to practice whatever religion they want,” one of the sociologists said in an interview. “On the other hand, there are certain boundaries on where it can be practiced.”
Similar to New England, Muslims were discriminated against more than other religions in the South. “Considering that the Muslim resumes did not contain Arab-sounding names or Islamic cultural references, this finding is probably a conservative estimate of the prejudice against Muslims,” the study said.
Both Maine and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating against employees or applicants because of their religion. If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you because of your religion, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights.