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Could your job application have discriminatory questions?

Employers generally do not realize this, but job seekers may find it particularly difficult to know what to do when an application has questions that they may be uncomfortable answering. The same may apply when screening questionnaire has illegal questions. After all, they would not be applying if they didn't want the job (or needed the income). So it is not uncommon for eager applicants to unwittingly complying with illegal directives, and could cause an uninformed employer to foster discriminatory practices.

Compliance with state and federal law is increasingly important given how many more prospective employees are seeking jobs. Through this post, we hope to educate employers on what to avoid on job applications and screening interviews.

Questions asking about disabilities or medical conditions - These questions could run afoul of EEOC regulations or the Americans with Disabilities Act and could be used as reasons to disqualify an otherwise worthy applicant.

Questions about arrests and convictions - Questions about arrests do not serve as proof that a person was actually found guilty of a crime, and could serve as a discriminatory reason for disqualifying applicants. The same could be said about convictions unless they are directly related to the requirements for the position, and consistent with the needs of the business.

Questions about graduation dates - These questions could give a hiring manager improper information about an applicant's age and could violate the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act). Indeed, it is appropriate to ask if the applicant is over the age of 18 if it is required for the position. Otherwise, asking if the applicant has graduated from relevant programs is all that is needed.

A non-discrimination statement - While the preceding are elements to avoid on applications, it is important for applications to have a statement explaining that the employer is an "equal opportunity employer" and does not discriminate based on federally protected classifications (i.e., race, sex, disability, national origin, etc.).

If you have additional questions about creating proper job applications or need guidance on screening questions, an experienced employment law attorney can help.

The preceding is presented for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

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