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Four Illegal Job Screening Questions (And What You Can Do When You Encounter Them)

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If you've recently begun job hunting after being at a single employer for some time, you may be taken aback by modern job searching methods -- from online applications and pre-employment screening quizzes to video interviews with hiring managers across the globe, today's job market is more high-tech than ever. However, despite the rapid increases in technology, there are a number of job interview questions that are illegal under federal and state law, and online screening tools are no exception. Read on to learn more about four illegal job screening questions and what you can do if you encounter one of these questions during your job search. 

What questions are job applicants protected from being asked?

  • How many kids do you have?

Although employers are able to ask about your ability to work certain hours or perform certain tasks (like overnight travel), directly asking you about your children or family obligations is illegal. 

  • You don't look well. Are you healthy enough to do this job?

This can be a tricky question, as there are some legal ways to ask about one's ability to physically perform certain aspects of a job -- however, making direct inquiries into someone's health (especially after commenting that they look unwell) can run afoul of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • What medications are you taking?

This is another health-related inquiry that can get employers into trouble, as asking applicants about their medication regimen or medical conditions directly could violate the ADA and other federal and state health protection laws. 

  • You look familiar. Do you go to Anytown Baptist Church?

Asking applicants about their church attendance or religion is another huge red flag, as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects individuals from job-related discrimination on the basis of religion. 

What should you do if you run into an illegal question while applying for a job?

An advantage to running into this question in a written job screening test (rather than an in-person or telephone interview) is your ability to choose your reaction more carefully. Rather than being taken aback and mumbling a response or being forced to inform your interviewer that the question they've asked is an illegal one, you'll be able to make this report more anonymous. In many cases, you'll be able to answer the discriminatory or illegal question in a tactful way that doesn't give up any privileged information but still answers the question. In other situations, you may want to take the existence of an illegal question as a red flag that you don't want to work for this employer.

To learn more, contact a company like Legal Locator Service, L.L.C.