Were you discriminated against because of your name?

You aren’t legally required to disclose your race or ethnicity on your job application. But, when you fill it out, they tell you it’s not a good fit. You don’t even get an interview. At least you know there was no racial discrimination, right? You never met with anyone in person and you never told them what your race is, so that would be impossible.

Not so fast. The truth is that racial discrimination still happens — and it may be focused on your name.

The issue, researchers have found, is that people may assume that some names sound Caucasian and others sound African-American. One name that they pinpointed in their study was DaShawn. Most people assumed —  and were correct in assuming so — that a person with this name was African-American.

So, if you send in your application and your name is DaShawn, and then you don’t get a callback, you may be left wondering why. You’re clearly qualified. If anything, you’re over-qualified. You may start wondering if they even read your application or if they just tossed it after reading your name. That’s clear discrimination based on what ethnicity they believe your name suggests, even if they don’t know for sure.

To test it, some have changed the names on their applications. If you wrote in that your name was John, instead, and then you got a callback, that would only be more evidence that they discriminated against you. If everything else was the same, they only called you because you had a white-sounding name.

Issues like this show how complex discrimination can be and why you must know your options to fight back if it happens to you.