When one is searching for a job, they polish their resume and fill out job applications. Hopefully all of these efforts lead to the next step: a job interview. While it is normal to be nervous and excited about an interview, one also hopes they will be treated fairly in comparison to other candidates for the job, and Minnesota law serves to support this expectation.

For example, per the Minnesota Human Rights Act, it is unlawful for an employer to ask the job applicant for certain information. They cannot ask for information about the applicant’s race or national origin. They cannot ask about the individual’s gender, sexual orientation or whether the applicant is married. They cannot ask whether the applicant is on public assistance or if the applicant has a disability. They cannot ask how old the applicant is, what religion the applicant practices or anything about the applicant’s creed or familial status.

This includes asking for this information in a job application form, during the job interview, via third-parties or through a physical exam. Moreover, even indirect inquiries and considerations regarding these protected categories is prohibited by Minnesota law. These inquiries could result in a violation of the law. If the law is violated, authorities may bring an action against the employer, and the applicant could even pursue legal action if it is believed that the applicant was discriminated against.

That being said, there are very narrow exceptions to these provisions of the law. If there is a lawful bona-fide occupational qualification, if the employer is tracking affirmative action information, or if there is a national security interest, certain otherwise prohibited information can be obtained.

There are other provisions of the Minnesota Human Rights Act that go beyond the scope of this post. Job applicants who have questions about what an employer may or may not ask during a job interview, who feel they were discriminated against in hiring or who have other questions about employment discrimination may benefit from speaking with an employment law attorney.