Princeton University Study on Race Discrimination in New York City Yields Remarkable Insights into NYC Sociology

How does race discrimination impact New York City job applicants? Two researchers at Princeton University’s Department of Sociology, Devah Pager and Bruce Western, tackled this subject in a new paper entitled Race at Work: Realities of Race and Criminal Record in the NYC Job Market.

Opinion polls indicate that the majority of Americans believe we’re living in a land of equal opportunity; a recent Gallop Poll showed that around 75 percent of Americans believes that whites and blacks are treated as equals on the job market.

The authors investigated this belief by following nearly 1,500 entry-level job applicants in New York for nearly a year to determine whether their race/ethnicity would impact their prospects on the job market.

Unfortunately, the study dramatically contradicted the common assumptions. The authors found that African American and Hispanic applicants were ‘channeled down.’ In other words, they applied for high-level jobs like sales and promotions positions and were shunted to lower-level jobs such as busboys, runners, and dishwashers. White applicants who had a criminal record were also ‘channeled down.’
Meanwhile, white applicants who had no criminal record were ‘channeled up’ — in other words, offered positions that were higher-level than the positions they applied for.

A clear racial divide emerged. Black applicants were two thirds as successful as their Latino counterparts and only half as successful as white applicants.

This study — and others like it — suggests that racial barriers and stereotypes continue to play a profound and pervasive role in American society. From a policy perspective, it suggests that employers and lawmakers should pay extra attention to hidden biases to avoid unfair job channeling, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.

If you or a colleague has been the victim of employment discrimination in New York or retaliation, the firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP may be able to help. Dial us for a free consultation today at (212) 688-5640, or explore our free online resources at

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