Austrian company places ad for astrology signs
Salzburg, Austria

In Austria, the Stars Determine Whether You Get Hired

February 07, 2009 07:59 AM
by Rachel Balik
A Salzburg company is restricting its job openings to applicants born under one of five specific signs of the Zodiac.

Want a Job? What’s Your Sign?

A Salzburg company did a statistical study of employees and found that the best employees were all one of five astrological signs. The study led the company to place a want ad in several newspapers that required all applicants to be a Capricorn, Taurus, Aquarius, Aries or Leo. The company insisted that their methods were scientific, not discriminatory. A spokesperson stated that sociologists have used astrology-based methods in conducting research.

A number of equality groups were up in arms about the ads, claiming they were discriminatory. Despite the protests, the Austrian government determined that the ads did not violate any antidiscriminatory laws currently on the books.

A spokeswoman for the employee’s association of Salzburg says that “limitation” is not “discrimination,” as prospective employees born under a particular star sign could be any age, race or gender. A UPI article speculates that if the case is taken to the European Court of Justice, and the court rules in favor of the company, the practice of selecting employees based on star sign might spread.

Barry Williams, editor of the Skeptic Journal, wrote a 2007 blog post in the Australian condemning the popular belief in astrology. He noted that famous atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has demonstrated that if we substitute nationalities for astrological signs, the kind of generalizations people make seem intolerable. Williams also writes that the numerous studies testing the validity of astrological theories have all found them to have no substance.

Related Topic: Blood type discrimination in Japan

In Japan, many people believe that blood type determines personality. Kindergarteners are sometimes grouped together based on blood type, matchmaking services take blood type into account and, although they are not supposed to, employers often ask prospective hires their blood type during interviews. The Japanese feel that drawing such conclusions based on blood type is more legitimate that using astrological signs, and books on the subject are extremely popular.

Reference: Employee discrimination; Forer effect

Nolo, a Web site offering free and reliable legal advice, explains the ins and outs of employment discrimination in the U.S.

“People tend to accept vague and general personality descriptions as uniquely applicable to themselves without realizing that the same description could be applied to just about anyone.” According to the Skeptic’s Dictionary, this is known as the Forer effect, and it explains why people so readily believe in daily horoscopes and astrologically determined personality types.

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