Employers sometimes use information they get during job interviews or on employment applications to discriminate. This happens when an employer bases a hiring decision on protected characteristics.
Under the laws enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it's illegal to base hiring decisions on:
- Sex (including pregnancy)
- National origin
- Age (40 and over)
- Genetic information
An employer can't base a hiring decision on protected characteristics. For example, an employer may not refuse to give you an employment application because of your race.
If you're applying for a job and the employer requires you to take a test, the test must be related to the job. The test can't exclude you based on a protected characteristic.
Illegal Interview Questions
Employers shouldn't ask you questions about protected characteristics during your job interview or on your job application. A hiring decision based on these is discriminatory. Job related personal questions are usually allowed during your interview or on your application.
Usually it's not the asking of a question that's a violation of the law. Disqualifying you based on your answers to those questions is illegal.
What Employers Should Do
Employers should get rid of all pre-employment questions in application forms or at interviews that require protected class information. Protected information needed for pay and benefit purposes should be gotten after a person is hired. If a photo is needed for id purposes, an employer should get it after the employee takes the job.
Accommodation of Disability
If a job applicant with a disability needs an accommodation to apply for a job, the employer must provide it if it isn't too difficult or expensive. For example, an employer should arrange to have a sign language interpreter present during an interview or make other reasonable arrangements if needed.
Filing a Discrimination Claim
You may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC if you think you've been discriminated against.
It's best to contact EEOC right after you suspect discrimination. Generally, a charge must be filed within 180 days from the date of the alleged violation.
Questions for Your Attorney
Is it legal for an employer to ask if I've ever been arrested on a job application?
Is an employer allowed to ask me if I'm authorized to work in the US?
I'm over 40 and an employer asked me my age during an interview and didn't hire me. Can I file a discrimination claim?