Labor and Employment

Discrimination During a Job Interview

Many employers put a lot of effort into preparing effective employment interview questions. Nonetheless, one of the most common reasons that job applicants sue prospective employers is because of illegal discrimination practices that become apparent through questions asked during interviews.

Watch Out for Discriminatory Interview Questions

It is a violation of your civil rights to be evaluated for a job based on anything other than your ability to do the job. Questions concerning race, national origin, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, or gender should be, and indeed must be, off the table.

Even so, interviewers often make the mistake of asking job applicants direct or indirect questions about one of these characteristics. Even if you answer these questions, you can still file a discrimination suit if you don't get the job.

Your Criminal History May Come into Question

It is legal for a questioner to ask about prior criminal convictions, but the questioner cannot ask about arrests for which you were not convicted. By itself, an arrest doesn't speak to your guilt or innocence. Courts recognize that some racial groups are arrested more often than others. Therefore, it's deemed to be illegal discrimination if an employer considers an arrest record in the hiring process.

Your Interviewer May Ask to Run Your Credit

When you meet with an employer for an interview, the interviewer may ask you to fill out a consent form to check your credit as part of the pre-employment screening process. Your written consent on a document that is separate from other application materials is required by law.

Many states allow employers to use your credit history as a factor in their hiring decisions, but others allow it only for specific types of jobs. If you suspect that you were not hired because of a poor credit report, you may want to see whether the employer had the right to use that information.

Discriminatory Interview Questions Can Be Subtle

When an interviewer wants answers to questions that are clearly illegal, the interviewer might ask them indirectly. For example, you might be asked a question about your willingness to work on Christmas, Passover, or Eid Al-Fitr. Without asking directly, the interviewer may be using your response to figure out whether you're religious and will want time off to observe numerous religious holidays.

An Employment Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding the correct conduct of employment interviews is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an employment lawyer.

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