Unlawful Application and Interview Questions

job application discrimination, workplace discrimination, employee rights, lawyer, attorneyIllinois small business owners must navigate a range of confusing rules and regulations in their operations. The challenges are manifest even more when dealing with employees. All employees are protected from unlawful discrimination based on factors such as race, age, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and more. However, the protections under the law begin before any official employment relationship does. Applicants for jobs are also protected from the same types of discrimination as employees.

 Employers may not base hiring or other employment decisions on “protected” factors. Therefore, the types of questions that employers may ask on applications and in interviews are limited to try to avoid any discrimination in hiring. The following are examples of acceptable and unacceptable questions for job applicants.

Birthplace: Employers may not ask where an applicant or an applicant’s family was born. Employers may ask whether an employee is legally allowed to work in the United States.

National Origin: Employers may not ask any questions regarding an applicant’s or applicant’s family’s nationality, ancestry, or lineage. However, an employer may inquire whether an applicant speaks another language if it is relevant to the job duties.

Race: An employer may not ask any questions regarding an applicant’s race, color, complexion, or hair or eye color.

Religion: May not ask any questions about an applicant’s religious beliefs, association, or observance. May ask the days of the week on which an applicant can or cannot work.

Sex and sexual orientation: May not ask regarding a person’s sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, intentions of pregnancy, childbirth, or birth control.

Family and Marital Status: May not inquire about an applicant’s marital status, number of children or other dependents, or other familial relationships. An employer may inform applicants of policies regarding relatives who are also employed at the company.

Age: Unlawful questions include date of birth, age, school graduation dates, or any other questions that may identify as applicant as over age 40. May inquire whether an applicant is of legal age to perform that job.

Physical or mental disabilities: No questions are allowed regarding an applicant’s past or present disability, health, or other medical conditions, or regarding any physical or mental examinations or treatment the applicant has undergone. An employer is allowed to ask whether an applicant is able to perform the essential functions of a position and furthermore may require a job-related examination prior to finalizing an employment relationship.

The possibility of unlawful workplace discrimination begins well before a job offer is finalized. Business owners should know their obligations when seeking out applicants and interviewing potential employees.

If you have questions about how these matters may affect your business operations, call the Gierach Law Firm for help today. We work with businesses in Naperville, Oak Brook, and many nearby communities.