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Eight Points Where a Job Interview May be Found Guilty of Discrimination

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Discrimination does happen often in job interviews, and it is not always intentional. The job of recruiters is to differentiate between candidates, but the need of differentiation often results in active or unconscious discrimination. However, in a chronically disabled economy, a job seeker cannot afford to overlook transgression of his or her rights, especially when faced with questions of survival.

To assert your rights as a job candidate, you need to be aware of them, and this article provides a list of questions, which, if placed by a potential recruiter, amounts to breach of rights of a job seeker. While laws vary from state to state, and it is always preferable to seek legal advice before concluding active discrimination on part of a recruiter, federal laws and most state laws consider the following unconscionable:
  • Questions of age: Questions relating to age are held illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, if placed to a candidate aged more than 40 years. Surprisingly, the age discrimination protection does not extend to workers below 40 years of age. Employers are within rights to enquire whether you have reached the age of legal employment.



  • Questions of marital status: This is a good one. Questions regarding marital status are absolutely prohibited under most conditions, and even simple questions like whether you should be addressed as Miss or Mrs. can be construed as discriminatory. Recruiters fret under this prohibition, because an indication of your marital status and family relationships can provide healthy cues about your emotional stability and employability. If your spouse works in a highly paid occupation with chances of translocation, your possible service tenure may be affected by changes in your spouse's or partner's job. Knowing your marital status and strength of relationship can make the job of a recruiter much easier, but regrettably for them, questions about marital status are definitely out of bounds. Incidentally, this is an issue where over -clever recruiters often make slips as they try to pry out information from apparently innocent angles.

  • Questions about addictions: Questions related to substance abuse or personal substance addictions can be considered discriminatory, if put in a derogatory manner. Employers are within rights to seek information about drug, nicotine, or alcohol addictions of potential employees. They can even simply ask if you, by chance, use illegal drugs. They can ask, whether you have ever been disciplined for breach of company policies over substance abuse. However, for example, they cannot ask why you take a particular prescribed medication like sleeping pills.

  • Questions about disabilities and past medical conditions: Unless it can be proven that the disability of an employee would significantly affect performance and expenses of the company, questions about disabilities, either mental or physical, are considered discriminatory. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, strictly lays down such conditions and stipulates that employers cannot discount any candidate for physical or mental disabilities that are unrelated to job performance or may have minor consequences. Questions about past medical history are also considered discriminatory under certain conditions.

  • Citizenship status: A controversial prohibition under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, 1986, and one that is argued by many to strengthen the arms of those who prefer employment of illegal immigrants, citizenship status cannot be used against a potential job candidate during the process of hiring. An employer is entirely within rights to ask whether a person is authorized to work in the US. However, direct action on part of the employer can be deferred until the stage where the worker needs to complete the Employment Eligibility Verification.

  • Questions on religion: It is illegal to discriminate against a potential candidate on the grounds of contradictory religious beliefs, and employers are required to accommodate religious practices concerning dress and time-scheduling under most conditions.

  • Questions of race: Questions about race and ethnicity are absolutely prohibited and discrimination based on color remains a major issue and legal cause of action. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides such rights under Title VII and prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. However, employers are within their rights to ask whether an employee has any affirmative rights to claim on basis of race. Revealing such information remains at the discretion of the employee.

  • Questions on pregnancy: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits an employer from denying employment to a candidate on the basis of pregnancy related conditions or prejudices or other prejudices of other persons encountered in the workplace, including co-workers and clients or customers.
Job candidates often surrender their rights or find them violated due to lack of awareness, or desperation. However, desperate situation of the candidate does not attribute rights to a recruiter to flout laws or constitutional principles in favor of job seekers.
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