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Illegal Hiring Questions
by Pat Hill

Employers need to avoid asking illegal questions when interviewing potential employees.  These are questions that would indicate that the employer is basing the hiring decision on some illegal discriminatory criteria.  Even if the employer naively asks the question with no intention to discriminate, it could form the basis of a discrimination claim if the particular candidate is not hired.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.  In order to avoid potential claims of discrimination in violation of the Act, employers should avoid asking the following questions of potential employees.

What religion are you?

What church do you go to?

Are you married?

Do you have children?

Do you plan to start a family?

Are you a citizen?

What country do you come from?

What is your maiden name?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits employment discrimination against qualified employees with disabilities.  To steer clear of violations of this Act don’t ask potential employees these questions.

Do you have a disability that will prevent you from doing this job?

Will your disability interfere with your ability to do this job?

How many days were you sick last year?

Do you have (name of disease)?

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination against individuals who are forty years of age or older.  In order to avoid claims of age discrimination you should not ask questions such as the following.

How old are you?

When did you graduate from high school?

The Immigration Reform and Control Act prohibits employers from discriminating in employment on the basis of citizenship or national origin.  The questions mentioned in the section above on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 regarding citizenship, country of origin, and maiden name could form the basis for claims of discrimination under the Immigration Reform and Control Act as well.


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