Saturday, January 14, 2012

Questions to avoid at employment interviews

SAN DIEGO - Any competent employer knows it’s illegal to ask applicants outright about race, age, national origin and similar protected categories. The following, more subtle questions can also provide basis for discrimination claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

Race/National Origin/Ancestry
- What is your mother’s/father’s last name?
- Were you born in the US?
- Do you speak Spanish? (unless a job requirement)
- Would you be comfortable working with [a protected class member]?

- How old are your children?
- When were you born?
- When did you finish school?
- [Questions tending to identify persons over 40]

Disability/Medical Condition
- How is your health/are you in good health?
- How did you become disabled?
- Do you require [any medical benefits]?
- Will you need a leave?
- Are you taking any prescriptions?
- Have you ever been injured/sick?
- What is the prognosis?

- Would you need a leave?
- How many sick days you required last year?

Note: OK to ask whether an applicant can comply, with or without reasonable accommodation, with the essential job duties and punctuality requirements that apply to everybody. California requires employers to distribute Notice of Disability Insurance brochure created by the California Employment Development Department to all new hires. Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code § 2613(b) and (c) (2011).

Marital Status
- What was your maiden name?
- Does anybody live with you, do you have your own place?
- What is your spouse’s name, where does  s/he work?

- Do you own or rent your place?

Financial Status
- Have you ever received public assistance?
- Have you ever claimed bankruptcy, had your wages garnished?

Religion and Politics
- Would you need to miss work to observe [any religious holiday]?
- What church do you go to?
- What do you think about the current elections?

Freedom of Association
- Do you belong to Organizations X, Y or Z? Church?
- Were you ever in a union? (unless a job requirement)

Additionally, it is usually illegal for California employers to suggest an option to submit a photo, ask questions regarding arrest, military service, and whom to notify in case of emergency.