The Impact of Employer Hiring Bias towards Job Applicants with Mental Illness, Criminal Justice Involvement, and/or Identification as Gay



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People with mental illness (MI), criminal justice involvement (CJI), and/or identification as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) are at considerable risk for hiring bias by employers due to stereotypes and preexisting beliefs. Two previous studies by Batastini and colleagues (2014; 2017) have demonstrated hiring bias is worse for job applicants with MI and CJI; however, there is a paucity of research on the effects of hiring bias for job applicants with multiple stigmatized identities and criminal offenses of differing severity. The current study was an expansion of research by Batastini and colleagues (2014; 2017) that investigated the impact of employer hiring bias on people with multiple stigmatized identities, specifically people with MI, CJI, and/or identification as gay. Furthermore, this study intended to examine differences in employer perceptions of people with CJI based on the severity and type of criminal offense. Data was collected from employers and hiring professionals by Qualtrics Panel Management (QPM), a convenience sampling service. Each participant read one of 16 vignettes about a male job candidate applying for a maintenance position at an apartment complex. The vignettes varied by stigmatized label (i.e., mental illness, identification as gay, mental illness and gay, or no mental illness and heterosexual) and type of criminal offense (i.e., violent assault, property, drug possession, or no CJI). Multivariate Analyses of Covariance were conducted to examine between-group differences of stigma and perceived hirability of the job candidate from the vignettes, while adjusting for hiring training experience, presence of LGB non-discrimination policy at the participant’s company, and participant gender. Moderation analyses were conducted to investigate how participant gender, participant SES, and the presence of LGB non-discrimination policies impacted hiring bias and stigma towards the hypothetical job candidates. Study results demonstrated no significant differences between ratings of hirability and stigma for any of the conditions (e.g., MI x CJI). The results produced no significant differences between ratings of hirability and stigma based on type of criminal offense. The results also indicated that participant gender did not moderate the hirability and stigma ratings of the hypothetical job candidate. The results of the second moderation analyses demonstrated that the presence of a LGB non-discrimination policy was a significant moderator only for the relationship between the gay job candidate and participant ratings of fear, specifically that the participants were more fearful of a gay job candidate when a LGB non-discrimination policy was present at a participant’s workplace. Lastly, the results of the third moderation analyses showed SES was not a significant moderator of the relationship between levels of familiarity and the outcomes of interest. Therefore, no support was found for the hypotheses of this study. The implications and limitations of this study are discussed as well.

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hiring bias, hirability, stigma, mental illness, criminal justice involvement, lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), hiring discrimination