There are certain questions an interviewer simply may not ask during an interview. An applicant can generally expect a few basic questions about work history and motivations for seeking a position, alongside specific questions about their skill sets and relevant experience during an interview. However, questions about an interviewee’s personal life may be later determined as discriminatory. At an interview, a prospective employer cannot ask questions that can be used to glean information that can be used to discriminate against the applicant.
Protected Characteristics Under Federal Law
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the following are protected characteristics:
- Genetic information
Discrimination based on one or more of the above characteristics is illegal. This includes all acts of discrimination, such as harassment, wrongful termination, segregating employees based on these characteristics, and using these characteristics as a way to screen applicants.
Recognizing Discriminatory Interview Questions
It is not always easy to recognize illegal interview questions. Often, they are disguised as friendly questions about the applicant’s personal life or questions that are somehow related to the job. Applicants who are not sure whether they are being asked illegal questions should ask interviewers to clarify their reasons for asking the questions before answering.
A few examples of illegal interview questions include:
- “What year did you graduate from high school/college/trade school?”
- “How old are your children?”
- “Where were you born?”
- “How did you suffer that injury?”
- “How much does your husband earn?”
- “What language do you speak at home?”
- “When do you plan to start a family?”
- “Have you experienced any serious illnesses in the past year?”
- “Which holidays do you celebrate?”
- “What nationality is your last name?”
Legal Recourse for Discrimination Victims
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency charged with investigating allegations of workplace discrimination and enforcing existing anti-discrimination laws in the United States. Individuals who experience discrimination and other issues such as retaliation and sexual harassment in their workplaces can file claims with the EEOC to have their case investigated. Like other types of legal claims, a victim must provide evidence to demonstrate that they suffered from specific, targeted acts of discrimination and experienced financial damages as a result.
Evidence that can be used to support a discrimination claim can include saved emails and memo notes, screenshots of job requirements or suggestions about the ideal candidate, and notes about questions faced during an interview. Discrimination at all stages of the hiring process can hurt applicants financially by denying an applicant the same opportunity as others based on one of the characteristics described above. Victims can miss out on tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation over their career.
Bucks County Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Advocate for Discrimination Victims
An attorney can help a victim file their discrimination claim with the EEOC after suffering financial damages as the result of an employer’s bias. To learn more, complete our online contact form or call 215-569-1999 to schedule your initial consultation with a seasoned Bucks County discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Our office is located in Philadelphia and we work with clients from Pennsylvania and South Jersey.