Fort Washington, MD asked in Employment Discrimination for Maryland

Q: Can an employer ask an employee for a writing sample BEFORE they apply to an internal job when not a requirement in JD?

An AA employee inquired with management about an open internal position they were thinking about applying for. Management told employee to send a writing sample by replying to 2 questions they sent employee via email, and it would be reviewed by manager and Team lead and they would follow up with next steps. The job requires daily contact with clients, and the person previously in the position was also AA, however, coworkers who are not of color complained to mgmt that previous employee was ghetto, and previous employee was given an ultimatum to go back to previous position or lose their job. The job is currently posted on the employers website and does NOT request nor require a writing sample in job description. Is this a case of biased racism by making the other AA employee present a writing sample BEFORE they officially apply to position?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: I assume your employer already knows your race, so it would hardly be necessary for them to require a writing sample to identify you as an African American based upon your English language usage, if they have a racist intent to discriminate against you for being AA. While calling the recent employee's language usage as "ghetto" is a racist characterization, you do not ascribe that opinion to your employer, but to other employees. That may be evidence of a hostile work environment. However that may be, an employee who acts as a direct spokesperson to customers of a business is also the public "face" of the business, and in that capacity I can see any employer wanting that spokesperson to have certain language skills, diction and word usage appropriate to the position. A writing sample would demonstrate those skills. All applicants are required to provide such a sample, so presumably only candidates who demostrate articulate English language skills will be screened and selected for potential consideration. That in itself seems race-neutral. However, if you feel there is more to this issue, especially given the acist comments of your co-employees that may indicate a tolerance for this type of attitude in the workplace, and there are more facts to be considered, then locate an employment lawyer who handles hostile work environment claims to review the matter in a private consultation.

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