A Welsh graduate has claimed that she was told in a job rejection email that her “strong Welsh accent” would not fit into the employer’s working environment.
Eluned Anderson, 22, shared the response with her 12,000 Twitter followers despite having given a competent interview for the unknown position.
The young woman was understandably shocked by the response from the unidentified employer, with hundreds of Twitter users echoing her dismay.
‘Your strong Welsh accent would not suit the office environment’
The recent graduate posted the full email in a screenshot to her Twitter account.
In the email response to Eluned, who is currently a regional ambassador for Holocaust UK, the potential employer said:
“Thank you so much for your time in applying to the role of [redacted] and attending the interview at such short notice. We thought you were fantastic, and performed very well throughout. Your skill set would reflect well in the role.
“I’m sorry to say, however, that we have decided not to proceed with your application. It was decided that your strong Welsh accent, accompanied by your regional activities, would not suit the office environment.
“Thanks again for your interest and time. Kind Regards.”
Despite the reply, Eluned kept spirits up, commenting: “First time I’ve ever been told I’ve got a strong Welsh accent so I suppose that’s a win?”
‘Is this honestly real?’
Eluned’s followers and strangers alike were appalled by the email, with thousands of people getting in touch to back her up.
Twitter user Andrea wrote: “Is this honestly real? It’s not real, is it? Please say it’s not real. Also, what are “regional activities”!?!?”
Another user added: “Language snobbery is alive and well. I suppose they’d claim that nobody on the interview panel had any accent at all?”
Others asked whether Eluned had a legal argument to make on ground of discrimination in employment law.
Jamie Hanley, a partner a trade union law firm Patterson Brewer, offered his services, saying: “Ellie - if you want my team at @TradeUnionLaw to look at this for you please send me a DM. Would be happy to assist.”
Is the employer’s response legal?
While many employment lawyers have come to Eluned’s help, there is a grey area when it comes to employment discrimination on the basis of an accent.
While it seems as though it would be a straightforward case of discrimination in the workplace, it may not be as simple as that.
Specialist employment law firm Doyle Clayton said: “There is no legislation that specifically says it is discriminatory to treat someone differently because of their accent, however an employee may bring a claim for discrimination on the grounds of race or nationality if they are discriminated against for having a foreign accent.
“An employer may have a defence to such claims if they can show that being easily understood is an “occupational requirement” for the job. However this defence only applies where clear communication is vital. For example it may succeed when the job involves such roles as teaching, working in customer service or on reception. It would not work where the job does not require much communication with others.”
However, the law firm also goes on to say that “discrimination law covers less favourable treatment on the grounds of nationality... for example, Irish or Scottish”, meaning that Welsh native Eluned may have a case against the unidentified company.
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