Prospective employees selected for interviews are often excited at the prospect of landing a new job and eager to answer any questions their would-be employer has for them. However, interviewees should not feel compelled to answer inappropriate or illegal questions. It is important for employees to know their rights during interviews and to be able to identify interview questions that are off-limits.
State and Federal Laws Against Discrimination
Employers are prohibited, by both state and federal law, from discriminating against individuals based on certain protected characteristics. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws prohibit employment discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and disability. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) provides additional protections and prohibits employers from discriminating in any employment-related action against individuals based on several factors. These include race, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, pregnancy, mental or physical disabilities (including AIDS and HIV status), and military status.
These rules apply at all stages of the employer-employee relationship – during recruitment, interviewing, hiring, promotion, and firing. Employers who ask questions during interviews that would reveal information pertaining to protected characteristics without having a job-related basis, and then use that information to make their decision, are violating state and federal discrimination laws. Sometimes inappropriate questions are easy to recognize such as, “How old are you?”, while others are less obvious. The following are some questions that should raise red flags for interviewees:
- When do you expect to retire?
- When did you graduate high school or college?
- How long have you been working?
- How often do you call in sick?
- What prescription drugs are you taking?
- Have you used illegal drugs?
- What country are you from?
- Is English your first language?
- You have an accent; were you born in the United States?
Marital Status/ Sex/ Sexual Orientation
- Are you married/planning to become married?
- Do you have/are you planning on having children?
- Have you made childcare arrangements?
- What religious holidays do you practice?
- Will you be requesting time off for religious holidays?
- What church do you go to?
- What type of discharge did you receive?
- Will you be deployed soon?
Interviewees who are asked one or more of these interview questions may respond by telling the interviewer that they do not feel comfortable answering the question. Human resource experts suggest redirecting the question back to the interviewer or asking the interviewer how the question is related to the position. Individuals who feel that they were ultimately not hired because of their answers to certain interview questions may wish to contact an employment lawyer who can explain their legal rights and options.
Cherry Hill Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Represent Victims of Employment Discrimination
If you suspect that you were not hired due to discrimination, contact a Cherry Hill employment lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Our attorneys can provide you with knowledgeable advice and representation in all employment law matters.