Gen-Z, Graduates, Employment, Pro-Palestine Protests, Morehouse College

Gen-Z Graduates Face Employment Market Concerns About Pro-Palestine Protests

Huy Nguyen, a Chief Education and Career Development Advisor, sounded the alarm that companies who ask about potential employees engaging in protest risk crossing a line into potential discrimination over political views.

In November 2023, shortly after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that triggered several months of Israeli attacks on Gaza, news outlets talked to workers who shared that companies were targeting them for expressing pro-Palestinian views. Now, after students who protested the Israeli response in Gaza have graduated, some employers are allegedly not willing to hire them

As CNBC reports, a survey of 1,268 business leaders conducted by reflects an increased unwillingness from employers to hire new graduates, with some employers citing their belief that those graduates could exhibit ‘confrontational’ behavior in the workplace. 

According to the survey, “The reluctance to hire protestors stems from concerns that they may exhibit confrontational behavior (63%), are too political (59%), or could potentially make workers uncomfortable (55%). Additionally, some business leaders perceive protestors as liabilities (45%), dangerous (40%), lacking adequate education (24%), or holding conflicting political ideologies to their own (23%).”

This survey seems to indicate that the climate has worsened both for Gen-Z workers in general and those who have expressed pro-Palestinian views since a November 2023 report from Prism, which indicated that employers were retaliating against workers who expressed those views. 

Corey Saylor, the research and advocacy director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the outlet that they received an outsized number of requests between Oct. 7-24, nearly three times their 16-day average, which reflects the bias in how those who support Palestine were treated. 

“That gives you a sense of the disproportionate nature of the incoming complaints and reports of bias and requests for help that we’re seeing. Usually, as an activist, you get used to it. You get targeted; that is part of the deal,” Saylor said. “I cannot recall ever seeing individual people engaging in free speech, joining the political dialogue in this nation, getting targeted in the way that I’ve seen this time around.”

Ryna Workman, a law student at NYU and the former president of SBA, NYU’s Student Bar Association, was removed as president over a newsletter they sent out that called for a ceasefire and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people. Now, increasingly common positions cost Workman their position at SBA and a potential employment opportunity.

As Workman told Prism, it was more important to them to speak up for what they believed than to stay silent, “Don’t let these consequences you are facing discourage you from speaking out for what you know to be true, for what you believe in, and for trying to stop this loss of human life,” Workman said. “Because that is more commendable than any honor, than any job than any award will ever be.”

Huy Nguyen, a chief education and career development advisor, sounded the alarm to Intelligent that companies who ask about potential employees engaging in protests risk crossing a line into potential discrimination over political views.

“This survey highlights the unfortunate reality where political issues, social activism, and divisiveness are spilling over into the workplace,” Nguyen said. “As political polarization intensifies, companies appear more likely to make biased judgments about recent graduates based on ideologies or personal behaviors, like protesting or social media activities.”

Nguyen continued, “This trend poses risks for companies by potentially creating a toxic work environment and may also have legal ramifications if they are discriminating based on political beliefs during the hiring process. It would be prudent for both employers and job seekers to keep politics out of the hiring process. Focusing on a candidate’s qualifications, demonstrable skills, and personal merit is the best way to consider how well someone might succeed in the given role they are applying for.”