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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.
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.