John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
612-217-4988 877-390-4527

Can employment discrimination take place at a job interview?

People in Minnesota who are hunting for a job may send out a lot of resumes to potential employers to secure a position they are happy with. So, when they finally land that job interview they may feel excited, yet nervous. They want to make sure they provide good answers to the questions the interviewer will ask them, but are there any questions that employers cannot ask prospective employees and that prospective employees do not have to answer?

There are questions employers cannot ask a prospective employee in a job interview. This is because prospective employees, just like regular employees, are protected by laws that prohibit employment discrimination. Questions based on a person's race, age, marital status, or other protected categories generally are not permitted.

For example, if a prospective employee has an accent, the employer cannot ask where the prospective employee is from, as this is akin to asking the prospective employee what their race or national origin is. Employers cannot ask when a prospective employee graduated, as this could be akin to asking what the prospective employee's age is. Employers cannot ask if protected employees are disabled or are on medications. Employers cannot ask if the prospective employee is married or what their spouse's occupation is. Asking whether a prospective employee is pregnant or if they plan on becoming pregnant is also prohibited. Finally, employers cannot ask a prospective employee how many kids they have and how old they are, as this is akin to asking questions about the prospective employee's familial status.

Now, if the job requires specific needs for age, physical ability, or other qualifications, then employers are permitted to ask prospective employees questions regarding these specific needs. However, it is a fine line between specific needs and discrimination. If you believe you were discriminated against in a job interview and feel that but for that discrimination you would have gotten the job, it may be time to explore what options you have to address the situation.

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John A. Klassen, PA
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