Recognizing discrimination during a job interview

Workplace discrimination does not always begin after you have landed your job. In many cases, what employers say and ask during a job interview may also be discrimination.

The law protects against discriminatory behaviors. If an employer starts your working relationship with discrimination, it will likely continue after you get the position.

Discriminatory (and possibly illegal) interview questions

At one time, employers felt they could say and ask whatever they wanted during an interview. Fortunately, that’s no longer the case. Now, we do not have to accept sensitive and potentially unlawful questions. Some examples of interview questions prospective employers must never ask include:

  • How old are you? Unless a job requires someone to be of legal age (like a bartender position), employers cannot discriminate because of your age. They cannot ask it in the interview (or things like what year you graduated from college that could indicate your age).
  • Do you have kids or plan to have them? Some employers inquire about this to determine if you might need extra time away from work for family or pregnancy reasons. However, this question is no longer allowed in a job interview.
  • What country were you born in? Discrimination against people originally from other countries is against the law. When employers ask questions like this, it could be a red flag.
  • Are you married? Employers may not inquire about your personal relationships, including your marital status. Sometimes, queries about your personal life could be a way for the employer to find out if you are gay or lesbian.

To sum up, employers cannot ask questions or comment about anything that violates your employment rights. Other topics to be wary of include:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Disability

If you want to fight back against workplace or job interview discrimination, consider learning more about federal and state laws that protect against discriminatory employment behaviors.

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