If (based on firm owner's personal belief) in his own firm, between applicants, the company owner won't choose a specific person based on personal views/belief (about age, sex, religion, race, LGBT, disability, etc.), is this discrimination?

I've been quite astonished when I've looked through some major countries' law about this subject and I've obviously spotted the dictate of anti-discrimination law. actually, I don't emphasize on these three: gender, age and race, but onto others - personal characteristics. It doesn't matter what belief the owner has or why he wants to choose this or that candidate, choose the person who knows e.g. Japanese, or who has a brown hair, or who likes potatoes, or who doesn't spit his sister, or who is not follower of specific aggressive religion (because he feels insulation from his/her beliefs, behavior and concerns), or promotes pornographic behavior, or a huge list of characteristics - shortly whom he wishes to have a partnership. He just wants to choose the people in his own firm however he wants. People choose with whom they want to become friends, with whom they feel comfortable to work, whom they choose in their firm, and do their way of life as they want. But to my surprise, this is reckoned as discrimination in some countries. I can't understand how it's discrimination to reject one, whose religion or personal views insults me, my country, my culture and religion? If I go to India and apply for job, and the Recruiter prefers someone other (just for the reason that another applicant is Indian and Buddhist, and more near to their atmosphere, as opposed to me, who I am i.e. from Netherlands and Christian, or i.e. If I am morally degraded person from his view), I will totally understand that fact and have nothing against it. Maybe not ideal, but it won't come to my mind to claim for this fact. This is how we (people) live and it's their right to do so - it's not discrimination from my view.

However, I know that arguing makes no sense, so I'll just ask a question:

  1. Is there any international law that applies to all countries?

  2. If that is determined depending on country, if you know, in which countries such action is considered as discrimination?


5 Answers 5


The purpose of anti-discrimination laws do not have the purpose to force companies to hire certain people.

The purpose of those laws is to increase the chances of properly qualified people to get a job.

Think of this: assume you are a very competent person, but looking not so attractively. Would you like to be unemployed just because of your looks, regardless of all the education and experience that you have?

With an anti-discrimination law in place, if you know that you are properly qualified, and you can prove that the person hired is significantly less than competent, you may have the chance to actually get the job, as you deserve.

Of course, we have to be realistic, and understand that theory and practice do not always match, and companies still hire discriminatory. However, the job market is better and more ethically balanced with the anti-discrimination laws in place.

  • I like this answer mostly, then other's guilting the OP for being incorrect & "teaching" about what is morally right. They shouldn't talk about moral (because it's quite irrelevant to law), because what i reckon morally incorrect, they might reckon morally correct, and that's nonsense when people talk about moral without any solid moral base. You answer is most exact as i think.
    – T.Todua
    Mar 5, 2019 at 18:18
  • @T.Todua moral (sic) is not 'quite irrelevant to law'.
    – jcm
    Mar 6, 2019 at 8:24
  • @jcm, with regard to discrimination, it is irrelevant in part of cases, especially what i've discussed with several people, while they claim that "it's not morally correct to diversify by religion or some views" while that religion or views directly insults my country, religion, my moral and culture. so, in those cases, those phrases that "morally correct/incorrect" is just blatant.
    – T.Todua
    Mar 6, 2019 at 8:43
  • 3
    @T.Todua note that it's not discrimination if people's religion or views actually hurt their ability to do their job. Discrimination is when you don't hire people for their private views, because you don't agree with them. A sales-person who refuses to shake hands for religious reasons and ends up losing deals because of it can totally be fired (or not hired in the first place) for that, for example. But it needs to be a view that hurts their ability to do the job, not a view that hurts your sensibilities.
    – Erik
    Mar 6, 2019 at 9:15
  • @Erik that's right, tnx
    – T.Todua
    Mar 6, 2019 at 9:19

If their "personal belief" regarding not hiring someone is based on a protected characteristic in that jurisdiction, (e.g. gender, religion, age, race, etc in the US, UK etc) then yes that's discrimination, it's pretty much the definition of it actually.

Hair colour, or fondness for potatoes (or other root vegetables) isn't protected directly anywhere that I'm aware of. I'm in the UK, if a man applies to work for me I can't decline to hire them because they are a man. On the other hand if they happen to be one of those weirdos that likes eating mushrooms I can legally not hire them for that reason.

1) Is there any International LAW that applies to all countries?

Nope - although there is significant overlap between many countries, and maybe ones that apply to multiple countries (such as EU law) there's no overaching law that applies globally.

2) If that is determined depending on country, if you know, in which countries such action is considered as discrimination?

This is too broad to answer really, you'd have to give us a specific country and specific characteristic or example.

  • 1
    +1 for the answer, but if you are ever in my area of the world looking for work in my field, don't bother. (Yeah, it's about the mushrooms.)
    – Damila
    Mar 5, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    I think it's worth noting, that while you can discriminate on non-protected characteristics (shoe choice, etc.); you have to be careful not to implicitly discriminate on a protected characteristic. Choosing not to hire people who like Nike shoes may be fine, but choosing not to hire anybody who likes high-heels would indirectly discriminate against women (even if you genuinely just hate those shoes, and had no hidden agenda) - and fall foul of the same anti-discrimination laws.
    – user81330
    Mar 5, 2019 at 15:47
  • @Damila lol.. I understand :D
    – motosubatsu
    Mar 5, 2019 at 15:49
  • 1
    @Bilkokuya Discrimination based on hair colour (or shoe choice, etc.) is in fact also illegal in many legislations even though it’s not a protected characteristic per se. But it falls under reasonable freedom of employees in their public, professional appearance. The exact legal status varies but (at least in Europe) most countries do regulate this, and unless there’s a valid business reason, an employees appearance cannot be mandated by the employer. Mar 5, 2019 at 15:52
  • 1
    @Bilkokuya That's correct, if the characteristic you delineate on can be strongly tied to one that is protected it can be seen as de facto discriminating on that
    – motosubatsu
    Mar 5, 2019 at 15:53

If (based on firm owner's personal belief) IN HIS OWN FIRM, between applicants, the company owner won't choose specific person(age, sex, religion, race, lgbt, disability, etc whatever...) based on personal views/belief, is it a discrimination?

You don't say which country you're talking about, but in most jurisdictions, yes, what you're talking about is blatantly illegal with certain very limited exceptions. Quite simply, refusing to hire someone because you dislike their race, sex, religion, etc. is illegal discrimination (not to mention morally wrong).

As other answers have pointed out, there are certain characteristics (e.g. hair color) that are not protected. However, literally every single characteristic you list is a protected group in many jurisdictions.

For example, in the U.S. it's absolutely considered discrimination to refuse to hire a disabled candidate who's able to perform the essential job duties with reasonable accommodation. The fact that the owner happens to disagree with that requirement is of no relevance whatever; the law is the law whether he likes it or not.

The "in his OWN FIRM" part is also completely irrelevant. Every firm is owned by someone, so by that logic everyone should be exempt from discrimination law. The government doesn't care who's doing the discrimination - the owner or one of the owner's employees; it's discrimination either way.

There are a few limited exceptions (depending on your jurisdiction). For example, in Illinois (U.S.), it's illegal to discriminate against someone for being 40 or older, but not illegal to discriminate against people for being less than 40. Religious organizations may be exempt from certain discrimination laws, too; for example, the Catholic church is under no obligation to hire Buddhists to be priests.

However, if you're a non-religious organization hiring, for example, a software engineer then you are not permitted to consider whether they're Muslim or Catholic as part of the hiring process. If you do, in most developed countries, you could be sued and/or fined - even in "your own firm."

TL;DR Don't discriminate based on stuff like sex, religion, race, etc. - it's wrong and, in most jurisdictions, illegal too.


1) Is there any International LAW that applies to all countries?

Employment laws are governed by local and federal authorities. There is International Labor Organization but it doesn't have direct authority to intervene AFAIK it only promotes and sets standards.

2) If that is determined depending on country, if you know, in which countries such action is considered as discrimination?

Every country's laws are different but in general no country wants to have discrimination in employment. Basically in every country it would be illegal but the owner has to make it very obvious to the public that yes he is discriminating based on gender, religion, etc which again depends on law and order of that specific land.

  • 2
    +1 which countries such action is considered as discrimination It is your duty to know this if you operate in that country. For general academic interest, better consult Wikipedia under Discrimination laws.
    – rath
    Mar 5, 2019 at 11:34
  • ILO Conventions are legally binding on the signatories, so they are certainly more than just standards. But you are right that ILO usually can't "directly intervene". It does have an arbitration mechanism, however, in which employer organisations and trade unions can file complaints against their governments if those are breaking an ILO convention.
    – henning
    Mar 5, 2019 at 15:07
  • "in general no country wants to have discrimination in employment" you mean "no civilised country", surely?
    – RedSonja
    Mar 7, 2019 at 14:22

Yes it is discrimination but it might not be illegal or even wrong.

The word "discrimination" has several meanings, one of which is no longer fashionable. It is: "The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment." In making my collection of antique furniture I hope to practice discrimination to a very high degree.

The more fashionable meaning of the word is "Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit". If an employer practises that kind of discrimination when selecting employees, then they might or might not be acting illegally, and they might be depriving themselves of wonderful potential employees, but, provided it is not illegal, then that is their business, and nobody else's.

The employer who never trusts men with beards would never hire me, but would lose the enormous benefits of having me as an employee. That is their problem.

  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the question, and also misses the whole reason these laws exist. Discrimination isn't an issue if one employer does it, but if a lot of them don't trust men with beards, you would lose the enormous benefit of being able to afford food.
    – Erik
    Mar 6, 2019 at 7:57
  • @Erik I have edited it to show explicitly what my answer is.
    – JeremyC
    Mar 6, 2019 at 8:57
  • Literally all of the characteristics the OP lists are legally protected in most western countries. Mar 10, 2019 at 15:26
  • @EJoshuaS Certainly not true of all personal beliefs.
    – JeremyC
    Mar 10, 2019 at 16:46
  • @JeremyC Still, the OP is literally asking why he's not allowed to discriminate against people of a religion he happens to dislike. Mar 10, 2019 at 18:26

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