Moore & Associates are Houston, Texas employment lawyers who may be able to help you if you believe you’ve been passed up for a job or promotion because of answers you might have given to illegal interview questions. Many workers may not realize that there are questions that interviewers are not permitted to ask job candidates. However, sometimes either employers are not aware that these questions are illegal, or they might ask these questions anyway. When potential hires encounter illegal interview questions, they can find themselves in a tough position. If you believe you have lost a job opportunity because of the way you answered an illegal interview question or because you refused to answer an illegal interview question, you may have important rights under the law. You may have the right to file an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit, or seek damages for lost wages and lost benefits if you believe you were denied a promotion because of an illegal interview question. Moore & Associates are employment law attorneys in Houston, Texas who work closely with individuals who have lost jobs and promotion opportunities due to illegal interview questions.
Types of Illegal Interview Questions
Companies may ask a range of questions to potential hires to understand whether they are a good fit for the company and to see whether the employee has the skills to do the job. However, there are certain types of interview questions that are not permitted. These are questions related to:
- Your age.
- Your race, ethnicity, country of origin, or where you were born.
- Your visa status or citizenship status.
- Employers are permitted to ask only one question regarding citizenship and visa status, which is this: “Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?”
- Your gender or sex.
- Your religion.
- Whether you have a disability.
- Whether you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or have children.
- Whether you are married or single.
Sometimes the way employers try to learn this information is subtle. For example, an employer might ask you how long you have been out of college to figure out your age. Or, an employer might ask you where your children go to school to determine whether you have kids. Rather than asking about your religion specifically, an employer might ask you whether you might need to take certain religious holidays off. Gender or sex related questions can include questions like “do you think a woman can do this job?” or “how do you feel managing a team of men?”
If you encounter illegal interview questions, read on below for some tips on how you can handle these challenges if you encounter them during an interview. However, if you believe that you were passed up for a job or promotion because you chose not to answer an illegal interview question or because you answered an illegal question and you don’t think you gave a satisfactory answer, you may have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the employer. Moore & Associates are employment law attorneys who may be able to help you if you believe you suffered discrimination in the hiring, firing, or promotion process.
How to Handle Common Illegal Interview Questions
You’re on the spot. You’re sitting in an interview, and the hiring manager asks you a question about your age, marital status, parenthood, religion, race, or disability. What can you do? Here are some ways you can tactfully shift the conversation.
- Age Questions. The Age Discrimination Employment Act offers protections to workers who are over 40 years old. The act doesn’t offer protections to younger workers. So, if you are an older worker and believe you are being passed up for benefits, a promotion, or job because of your age, you might have the right to pursue an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuit. However, if you are a younger worker, and an employer tells you that older candidates are typically considered for a job, the best thing to do is to shift the focus back to your skills and experience. Employers are permitted to ask you if you are 18 and whether you are legally old enough to work.
- Disability. While employers are permitted to ask questions about whether you can perform physical tasks on the job (like lifting boxes or standing for hours at a time), employers are not permitted to ask questions about disability or health if the question has no impact on job performance.
- Marital Status and Parenthood. One way employers may try to learn more about your family status, is by asking you how you’ll arrange for childcare while working. This is an illegal question. One way to address the question is to simply tell the employer that you are capable of meeting the schedule and duties required for the position.
- Religion. Questions like “Can you work Sunday mornings?” are illegal if they are related to your religion. Again, you can shift the focus to your ability to meet the demands and schedule of the job if you are asked this type of question.
- Country of origin, nationality, or race. If you are asked where you were born, where you are from, or where you got your accent, this is an illegal question. However, sometimes employers might ask these kinds of questions meaning to ask if you are legally able to work in the U.S., so if you choose to respond, you can simply tell the interviewer that you are legally authorized to work in the U.S.
Illegal interview questions can put potential hires in an uncomfortable position. You can always refuse to answer an illegal interview question. Sometimes employers or interviewers may not realize that the questions they are asking are illegal. For example, in casual conversation, questions about family, cultural background, or religion might come up. The key thing is to understand your rights and to understand that answers you give or don’t give to these questions should have no impact on the employer’s hiring or firing decisions. If you believe you may have lost a job opportunity in Houston, Texas because of an illegal interview question, you may have rights. Moore & Associates are employment law attorneys in Houston, Texas who may be able to help you.