HARTFORD — Two studies suggest that religious self-identification on a job applicant’s résumé can harm his or her job prospects, with Catholics receiving almost as few responses to job applications as Muslims in some parts of the United States.
“What we found is that, when applying for a job, it’s better not to mention religion at all — but employers really don’t want you to mention being a Muslim,” University of Connecticut sociology professor Michael Wallace told the UConn Today blog June 16.
The Southern study, published in the journal Social Currents, said that religious-based discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have increased from 1,388 in 1992 to 3,790 in 2011.
That study, conducted in 2010, sent 3,200 résumé for 800 job positions in customer service, hospitality, media, retail, real estate, shipping and clerical work, the Washington Times reported.
The fictitious résumés from recent graduates were similar, except for one line that randomly indicated whether the applicant participated in a university-related religious group.
The fictitious job applicants were atheists, Catholics, evangelical Christians, Jews, pagans, Muslims and an imaginary religious group called “Wallonians.” Résumés from a control group did not mention religious participation.
Researchers then measured and compared prospective employers’ responses sent by email or voice mail.
Job applicants without religious identification on their résumés received the most phone responses from prospective employers. Self-identified religious applicants were 26% less likely to receive a response.
Among religious applicants, Jewish applicants were most likely to receive a response, followed by evangelical Christians and pagans. Catholics ranked next, equal to “Wallonians,” followed by atheists and Muslims.
The New England study, conducted with a similar methodology, sent 6,400 résumés for 1,600 job postings in the Northeast United States in 2009.
Self-identified religious applicants performed more poorly than applicants who did not mention religious affiliation. That study found that résumés that mentioned any religious affiliation received about 25% fewer phone responses.
Muslim applicants received 33% fewer responses than the control group.
“There was also evidence of discrimination against atheists, Catholics and pagans,” said the abstract of the New England study, published in the December 2013 issue of Research in Social Stratification and Mobility.
“We hope our work encourages future research on religious discrimination in the workplace,” said the researchers in their Southern study.
They said that further research should explore aspects of religious discrimination in work assignments, disciplinary action, promotion opportunities and benefits, as well as religious accommodation in the workplace.