Labor and Employment

Discrimination in a Job Interview

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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.

Protected Characteristics

Under the laws enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it's illegal to base hiring decisions on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy)
  • National origin
  • Disability
  • Age (40 and over)
  • Genetic information

Hiring Decisions

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?

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