Labor

José Had to Change His Name to 'Joe' to Get a Job (VIDEO)

And he is not alone in his struggle with racist employer discrimination.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot

Frustrated after sending out 50 to 100 job applications a day for months and receiving no responses, José Zamora decided to change just one letter in his name. He took the “s” out of “José” and sent out the exact same resume under the name “Joe.”  While potential employers had failed to even respond to “José,” a week after the name change they seemed to be lining up to talk to “Joe."

In a video titled "José v. Joe: Who Gets a Job," Zamora says he was applying to the exact same jobs, with the exact same resume and experience, just a different name.

"Sometimes I don't even think people know or are conscious or aware that they're judging, even if it's by a name, but i think we do it all the time," he says.

Zamora's simple experiment exposes a blatant racial bias that is all too prevalent in the US.

As the Huffington Post noted in an article about Zamora, "Although digital job applications would seem to be the ultimate exercise in colorblind hiring, numerous studies and applicants have found the opposite." 

The Huffington Post report cites a study released by the Poverty Action Lab in which applicants with "white-sounding names" received 50 percent more callbacks than applicants with "black-sounding names."
 
Zamora is by no means alone in his struggle with employer discrimination. According to a report by the New York Times, US employers regularly discriminate against names that sound black or Latino, and many applicants feel the need to hide their racial identity in order to be considered for employment.
 

For example, the Times shared the stories of two women who were among more than 24 college-educated black people interviewed for their article about racial disparity in hiring:

"Tahani Tompkins was struggling to get callbacks for job interviews in the Chicago area this year when a friend made a suggestion: Change your name. Instead of Tahani, a distinctively African-American-sounding name, she began going by T. S. Tompkins in applications.

Yvonne Orr, also searching for work in Chicago, removed her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University, a historically black college, leaving just her master’s degree from Spertus Institute, a Jewish school. She also deleted a position she once held at an African-American nonprofit organization and rearranged her references so the first people listed were not black."

Watch Zamora's video below: 

 

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet's drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide.

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