Questions are a very important part of the hiring process, as they are needed to determine if applicants are the best fit for that role. However, there is a limit on how personal questions can get for employee protections reasons. Determining an employee’s religious or political beliefs can cause tension between employers and employees, which can lead to pay discrimination, wage suppression, or harassment.
Recently, one company made up of 80 percent atheists allegedly asked an applicant if he had religious beliefs during the interview process. After responding “yes,” he was allegedly asked “would you mind working for a company that is composed of 80 percent atheists?” Months later, the employee was fired after filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for hiring discrimination. He has since sued the company for wrongful termination. This case is still in litigation, but a good example of what should not be asked during the hiring process.
Red Flag Discriminatory Questions During the Hiring Process
- Age: Employers are not allowed to ask for your age during hiring. Age discrimination over the age of 40 is protected by federal law.
- Race: Although employers can ask for employee’s race for tracking applicants to achieve diversity, questions involving race that do not apply to the job requirements are illegal.
- Marital status/plans to have children: It is illegal for employers to base hiring decisions on the likelihood that you may one day decide to get married or have children, thereby potentially quitting or taking significant time off.
- Disability: Employers can ask if you have a disability that will inhibit your ability to do the duties required. However, employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for disabled employees.
- Sexual orientation: The EEOC protects LGBT employees from hiring discrimination. Interviewers who ask about sexual orientation may be committing discrimination.