If you’re a business owner or an employee of a company you’ve likely had many interviews to find candidates for open positions. It’s important to know what questions you should and should not ask. In this article we outline what topics to avoid asking during the interview process.
Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (CRA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), do not expressly prohibit employers from asking specific questions, they do prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and citizenship. Although some questions may seem innocuous enough and may not be expressly prohibited from being asked of an applicant, at the very least, certain questions may provide a basis for someone who was not hired to claim it was due to discrimination. Some examples of these innocent sounding questions are:
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on disability. The ADA further prohibits employers from asking questions about disabilities before they hire an employee. However, employers can ask prospective employees whether they think they will be able to perform the job with or without reasonable accommodations, or if they have any conditions that would keep them from performing the job. The following are examples of questions employers cannot ask:
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their genetic information. GINA also general prohibits employers from requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information with respect to an employee or a family member of the employee.
The New York Human Rights Law (NYHRL) prohibits questions on application forms or in interviews that express any limitation, specification, or discrimination as to:
The NYHRL also prohibits questions about certain arrests and criminal convictions, including:
New York Labor Law prohibits employers from asking applicant about their wage and benefits history. Rather, employers may ask an applicant for their salary expectations for the position instead of asking what the applicant earned in the past.
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits employment practices that discriminate based on
Although the LAD does not expressly address preemployment inquiries, it does prohibit employers from discriminating in any job-related action including
The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act (NJOCA) generally prohibits employers from requiring that applicants for employment complete any employment application during the initial application process that asks about an applicant’s criminal record. It also prohibits employers from making any oral or written inquiry during the initial employment application process regarding an applicant’s criminal record. The “initial employment application process” ends when the employer has conducted a first interview of the job applicant, after which inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal record may be made by the prospective employer. The NJOCA also prohibits employers from producing solicitations for a position that state the employer will not consider anyone who has a criminal record, with certain exceptions.
New Jersey law also prohibits employers from asking applicant about their wage and benefits history.
New Jersey provides a great resource to help employers prepare and conduct lawful applications and interviews that can be found in this link: https://www.state.nj.us/csc/about/divisions/eeo/pdf/EEOAA_interview_guide.pdf
As you can see there are many topics to avoid asking a prospective employee. Avoid these topics on your next interview and save yourself from potential discrimination claims.
Information contained in this post is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the with Michael H. Ansell, Esq., or other competent legal counsel.