Job Interview Questions May Be Discriminatory Indicates Chicago Employment Attorney Timothy Coffey

Law Firm Newswire



Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) April 16, 2015 – Be alert during a job interview for questions that may be discriminatory.

While many seeking jobs today are aware of the possibility of discrimination in the workplace, few expect that job interviews may also be fraught with discriminatory questions. “It violates your civil rights to be judged on anything else other than your ability to do the job,” says Chicago employment attorney, Timothy Coffey. “Any other questions relating to race, age, gender or other prohibited areas, are not allowed – period.”

What if an applicant makes it to an interview after receiving positive signals from a prospective interviewer, only to meet with poor treatment and discouragement from applying? It could possibly be covert racism. Many employers attempt to hide their personal or professional preferences for members of certain ethnic groups to fill a vacant job position. This is illegal, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically prohibits “discriminat[ion] against any individual […] because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” If there is any reason to suspect that such discrimination is happening, seek legal counsel from an experienced employment attorney.

Some states allow the use of credit histories to assess potential job candidates. Other states only permit an interviewer to ask for a signed credit check approval form for specific jobs, such as those relating to financial transactions or bookkeeping matters. If a credit check is part of the interview process, the employer may ask the candidate to fill out a consent form to perform the check. However, the consent form must, by law, be a separate document from other application materials.

Human resource professionals often spend a great deal of time preparing what they feel are reasonable and non-discriminatory questions for job candidates. However, despite their best intentions, they may inadvertently ask indirect or direct questions about someone’s race, religion, disability, pregnancy or national origin in the interview itself.

An example of a discriminatory question would be one relating to whether or not the potential candidate would be available to work during holidays observed by various religions. By asking, it may inform the interviewer about the religion of the job seeker and that they might require time off to observe those days.
This is discriminatory and that type of information is irrelevant to an individual’s ability to perform the job they are hoping to obtain. “If you do choose to answer such questions, you may still file a discrimination lawsuit if you are not hired,” adds Coffey.

Criminal convictions are another matter, one in which the interviewer may legally inquire as to whether a candidate has a prior criminal record. They may not ask about prior arrests where an individual did not recieve a conviction for a crime. In most court jurisdictions, some racial groups are more prominently represented than others when it comes to arrests. Being arrested does not equate to being guilty of an alleged crime.

To find out what questions an interviewer may not ask, read this article on avoiding discrimination during the job interview process:

Learn more at THE COFFEY LAW OFFICE, P.C. 351 W. Hubbard Street, Suite 602 Chicago, IL 60654 Call: 312.627.9700
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