If you are currently searching for a new job, you should be aware that some employers may discriminate during the hiring process. If you recognize any of the common signs of hiring discrimination during your interview process, you may take action to enforce your rights under federal employment law.
Interviewing for a job is a stressful enough process without having to also worry about whether your potential employer is discriminating against you. Once you know the key signs, you will be better equipped to evaluate your potential employer and his or her possible bias.
Federal law protects against hiring discrimination
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces certain federal laws that make it illegal for employers to discriminate against job applicants or employees. This discrimination may take many forms, including: race, sex (including factors such as pregnancy, gender identity and sexual orientation), age (when 40 or older), national origin, color and religion. In addition, employers cannot discriminate against applicants who have a disability, or discriminate on the basis of genetic information.
Typical signs of discrimination during the hiring process
One of the most common ways potential employers violate federal law regarding discrimination is by asking questions that are inherently discriminatory. Some employers may ask these questions in good faith without intending to discriminate, but the law does not allow them to do so. If a potential employer asks you questions about any protected classes in state or federal job discrimination law, such as asking how old you are, if you are pregnant or anything regarding your sexual orientation or gender identity, these are all discriminatory questions. Such inquiries are not acceptable in the hiring process.
A potential employer needs to focus on asking questions that directly relate to the job in question. Therefore, rather than asking if you have a particular disability for a job where heavy lifting is a requirement, the employer could ask you if you are physically able to perform the tasks of the job. If you are not hired because you are not able to perform the job, this is not necessarily discrimination, as the employer is legally allowed to hire the best person for the job. The discrimination factor comes into play when two candidates are equally qualified to perform the tasks of the job, but the employer intentionally excludes one candidate based on factors of protected classes under federal law.