Given the current state of unemployment, potential employees are excited to simply get called for an interview. They quickly prepare and become familiar with anything and everything that has to do with their potential future employer to assure they knock it out of the park at their interview. However, simply because one is anxious to get a job, they should not overlook the signs of a discriminatory employer. This starts at the job interview stage.
So what are typical questions that employers ask in job interviews that they are not allowed to ask? Although below lists some examples, keep in mind that an employer will not ask them in this way, verbatim. There will be different versions of these questions, or a question that seems non-discriminatory but leads to the same answer as these discriminatory questions.
1. Are you married?
This question can lead to a plethora of discrimination, whether it is because: one is not married, but has a domestic partner; one is homosexual and has a partner, but cannot marry; or one is married and female, therefore, the assumption is she will likely have children soon. Such a question may also lead to answers that address one’s religion or gender.
2. How old are you?
It can even be asked in the form of “when did you graduate high school/college?” Although this may seem harmless, especially given that many believe one can gauge age simply by looking at an individual, this is not always the case. Just like the marriage question, age can lead to many assumptions such as pregnancy, retirement, ability to understand technology, etc.
3. Are you healthy?
The question may also be asked as, “Do you work out? Do you stay in shape?” or “What is your diet regimen?” The point is that an employer cannot ask this question because it may lead to the revelation of a disability or the potential of a large “burden” on the employer’s health insurance coverage for employees.
4. What is your nationality?
It can also be phrased as, “Where is your family from originally?” Race cannot always be seen easily, therefore, identifying oneself from a particular country or race can lead to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
5. Have you been arrested in the past?
Although it makes sense that an employer would want to know or an employer may ask an individual to execute an authorization to review one’s criminal history, the overbroad question of “ever being arrested” is not acceptable. Simply because one has been arrested does not mean they have a criminal history. Therefore, be careful with exactly what must be revealed (via a criminal background check), and what is overstepping by asking such a question.
At the end of the day, an individual will likely face some, if not all, of these questions in some of their interviews. Therefore, what are they to do? Attempt to answer the question in a way where the employer’s concerns are put at ease, while not sharing information they do not have to share. For example, if asked about health, answer “I have no problem meeting the physical requirement(s) of the positon.”
Keep in mind though, it’s not just that the questions themselves are illegal but, depending upon how one answers the question, it opens the door for an employer to discriminate against an individual with information the employer is not allowed to know. Thus, being strategic about these questions is important — not just to disallow the employer from violating the law, but also to assure one will not be discriminated against and turned away for an illegal reason.
If you think you have been discriminated against during a job interview or have been asked any of the above illegal questions and, therefore, denied a position, call Wilson McCoy, P.A. at (407) 803-5400. We can set up a consultation to determine if you have, in fact, faced an illegal action against you.