When preparing to interview a potential new hire, it is vital that you have a list of questions that you want to ask prepared in advance. However, if you want to avoid legal issues and accusations of discrimination, it is equally important to make note of some questions that you should never ask.
A brief list of some of the questions that should be off-limits during your next interview would include:
Are you a US citizen?
As any California employment compliance attorney will tell you, it is never a good idea to ask a candidate if they are a US citizen. Doing so is likely to be considered a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids employment discrimination based on national origin.
If you are just trying to make sure that you are not hiring someone who entered the country illegally, you should instead ask if they can provide documentation that proves they are eligible to work in the United States.
What religious denomination are you?
When interviewing a candidate for a position that you are trying to fill, you should never ask them about their religion. If you do, you may later be accused of passing the applicant over because of their religious affiliation.
It is also good practice to avoid asking questions that may be related to religion in some way. For instance, you should not ask candidates what they like to do on Sundays or if they have any specific dietary restrictions.
How old are you?
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects individuals who are older than 40 from being discriminated against because of their age. As such, you should never ask one of your interviewees how old they are, when they graduated high school or any other question that may indicate their age.
If the position that you are trying to fill has a minimum age requirement, you will need to ask about the applicant’s age in a very specific way. “Are you over the age of 21?” or “Do you meet the legal age requirements to perform this job?” will work in most cases. If you need a business attorney in San Diego to help you figure out the perfect way to ask this question during your next interview, just give us a call. We would be happy to help.
Do you plan to start a family?
Asking a job applicant if they plan to start a family is a surefire way to land yourself and your company in legal hot water. If you pass them over for the job after they indicated that they plan to have a child in the not-too-distant future, you may be accused of discrimination. It is generally a good idea to avoid questions about pregnancy, health, and family planning entirely.
Have you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim?
If you ask one of your candidates whether they have ever filed a compensation claim, you may be accused of trying to find out if they have a disability. Discriminating based on disability is illegal in the United States.
If the job that you are hiring for will require a great deal of physical exertion, you can outline the role to the applicant and ask if they can perform all tasks as described.
Your California Employment Compliance Attorney
Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list of the questions you cannot ask during an interview. If you need a business attorney in San Diego to review your company’s hiring practices, please do not hesitate to contact the Semanchik Law Group team at (619) 535-1811. We have been helping local businesses and nonprofits stay on the right side of state and federal employment regulations for years – and we would love to do the same for you and your organization.