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Mechanisms for hiring discrimination of immigrant applicants in the United States

Ekundayo Y. Akinlade (College of Business, Economics and Computing, University of Wisconsin Parkside, Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA)
Jason R. Lambert (College of Business, Texas Woman's University, Denton, Texas, USA)
Peng Zhang (Miami Business School, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 24 April 2020

Issue publication date: 7 May 2020




Few studies examine how hiring discrimination can be an antecedent to the labor exploitation of immigrant workers. The main purpose of this paper is to advance the theoretical understanding of how the intersectionality of race and immigrant status affects differential hiring treatment, and how it affects job offers, job acceptance and hiring decision outcomes for immigrant job seekers.


The paper draws from theories on status and intersectionality, and literature on immigration labor and racial hierarchy, addressing the unequal power relations that underlie race and immigration status affecting the hiring process, to advance critical understandings of why immigrant job seekers accept positions where they may be exploited.


This paper provides a conceptual model to critically synthesize the complexity between race and immigrant status, and their effect on the experience of immigrant job seekers differently. Exploitation opportunism is introduced to better understand the mechanisms of hiring discrimination among immigrant job seekers to include the role of race, immigrant status, economic motivations and unequal power relations on the hiring process.

Practical implications

The framework for exploitation opportunism will help employers improve the quality and fairness of their hiring methods, and empower immigrant job seekers to not allow themselves to accept subpar job offers which can lead to exploitation.


The paper provides an original analysis of immigrant job seekers' experience of the hiring process that reveals the intragroup differences among immigrants based on race and status, and the decision-making mechanisms that hiring managers and immigrant job seekers use to evaluate job offers and job acceptance.



Akinlade, E.Y., Lambert, J.R. and Zhang, P. (2020), "Mechanisms for hiring discrimination of immigrant applicants in the United States", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 395-417.



Emerald Publishing Limited

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