There are numerous state and federal anti-discrimination laws designed to assure that employers hire based upon skill, rather than stereotypes. Below is a list of questions that employers should avoid when conducting a new employee interview:
- What’s your race?
- What is your national origin?
- What is your maiden name?
- How old are you?
- Do you have any disabilities?
- What is your religion?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Did you serve in the military? What type of discharge did you receive?
- Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
- What clubs or organizations do you belong to?
- What is your height? What is your weight?
The list above is not all-inclusive and there are other questions that may cause a claim for discrimination. Certain federal and state anti-discrimination laws include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), you may not inquire into the age of a potential employee. The ADEA protects people over the age of 40, who work in companies with more than 20 employees, from employment discrimination. Employers may specify an age limit for a position only in rare cases, where it can be proven that age is a bonafide occupational qualification.
Also, asking questions such as, what clubs or organizations do you belong to, are also unacceptable, and potentially a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It is illegal to ask potential employees questions regarding race, color, creed, sex, or origin. The only way to indicate race would be on an employment application that allows potential employees to voluntarily disclose their race, otherwise, an employer may not ask a question about race.
The guiding principle behind any question to a job applicant is: Can you, as the employer, demonstrate a job-related necessity for asking the question. In other words, if it is not job-related, DO NOT ask it.
Stuart J. Oberman, Esq.
Stuart J. Oberman is the founder and President of Oberman Law Firm. Mr. Oberman graduated from Urbana University and received his law degree from John Marshall Law School. Mr. Oberman has been practicing law for over 30 years, and before going into private practice, Mr. Oberman was in-house counsel for a Fortune 500 Company.
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