Depending on how they are asked some questions in interviews about personal topics regarding health, marital status, and race are distasteful, and under federal law and some state and local laws illegal.
Don’t answer these types of questions because they can be used to discriminate against applicants, and you do not have to answer them. Here are 8 questions that a potential employer should not ask during interviews for employment.
1. How old are you?
There is no federal protection for workers under the age of 40, but for those over that age individuals are protected against discrimination in the workplace in favor of younger employees. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) forbids employers from discriminating against applicants or employees age 40 or older. Employers can only ask if you are over the age of 18.
2. Are you a U.S. Citizen?
According to The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), immigration status and citizenship cannot be used against you during the application process. Only after a job has been extended can an employer require you to fill out the Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) form and provide documents proving identity and employment authorization. It is okay however to ask an interviewee if they are authorized to work in the United States.
3. Are you married?
Employers might be tempted to ask this question to find out if spousal concerns can have any negative impact on your work performance, or if you may be tempted to leave the company because your spouse got a job in another city or state. Some employers try to get around this by asking how you want to be addressed…Mrs?..Ms? or Miss?, but this question is not allowed either.
4. Do you have any disabilities?
This question is illegal to ask under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Employers can’t dismiss you because of a physical or mental disability. The law requires they accommodate your disability unless they can prove it would cause unreasonable cost or difficulty in doing so. They also can’t ask if you had any past illnesses or operations.
5. Do you take drugs, smoke, or drink?
Employers can find themselves in legal trouble if they don’t frame these types of questions correctly. Concerns about drugs, alcohol, and nicotine addictions are valid potential problems for employers which can affect health insurance coverage rates and employee performance. They can ask if you’ve been disciplined before for violating company policy regarding the use of alcohol or tobacco products, or if you use illegal drugs. They cannot ask if you use prescription medication.
6. What religion do you practice?
Employers are required to accommodate employees regarding religious obligations, holidays, or even dress and grooming procedures. It is illegal to purposely harass an employee because of their religious beliefs.
7. What is your race?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. There is no situation where an employer should ask a person their race or skin color to determine if they are eligible for a job. You can be asked to reveal your race on a voluntary basis for affirmative action or in some cases tax break purposes.
8. Are you pregnant?
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that an employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition, or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients or customers.
It’s important for you to know what your rights are as an employee. Unlawful questions on applications, in the workplace, or during an interview are not right.