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What questions are employers not allowed to ask you in an interview?


When you’re looking for a job, you may have to go through multiple rounds of employers with multiple potential employers. And while every employer may have different styles, goals, and interview techniques, one thing should remain the same. Under U.S. law there are certain questions that they’re never allowed to ask.

At Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP we know the challenges that job seekers and employees face during the hiring process. And we know that all too often, employers violate employee rights. That’s why we’re ready to use our experience and our proven track record of success to seek justice for you.

When you need answers to your questions and in-depth legal advice for your situation, get in touch with Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP. Our experienced Southern California employment lawyers are ready to stand up for you.

For a free consultation about your case, get in touch with us today.

What Questions Are Off-Limits for Employers in Interviews?

When you’re in an interview, you can expect to get questions about your experience and how your skills fit the job. But there are many topics that employers shouldn’t ask you about. These are covered by discrimination laws and can include categories such as:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy status or plans
  • Genetic information
  • Medical history

But keep in mind that some limited questions may be legal in some situations. For example, an employer might ask a question to verify that you meet any age-specific legal requirements for the position. Whether it’s okay to discuss one of these categories will depend on the phrasing of the question, what it’s related to, and what the law says.

Additionally, the California Fair Chance Act prohibits employers from asking an applicant their criminal history before making a conditional employment offer. There are exceptions to this rule which apply to employment in law enforcement, farm labor contractor or a position where the employer is required by law to conduct a criminal background check. Even after making a conditional offer of employment an employer is not allowed to withdraw the offer based on the applicant’s criminal history without conducting an individualized assessment. An employer is also prohibited from considering any criminal records that did not result in convictions. Employers generally cannot consider criminal history older than 7 years because background checks are limited to 7 years.

As a general rule, the questions an employer asks should be related to job performance. If not, it may be illegal. So if you’ve been asked questions related to the categories above, and you have questions about whether it was appropriate, speak with an attorney.

What to Do if Your Rights Have Been Violated

If an employer, or potential employer, has violated your rights there are steps you can take to protect yourself. One of the most helpful things you could do is speak with an attorney about your situation. You can also talk with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a charge. Keep in mind that you’ll need to support your case with the law and with evidence, so make sure you have enough information and detail before moving forward.

How a Lawyer Could Help

Many employers ask illegal questions without understanding what they’re doing. Some do so with full knowledge that their behavior is illegal. All of them are violating the law.

But building a case and getting the EEOC to move on a case can involve a significant amount of planning and preparation. That’s where a lawyer could help. A lawyer could:

  • Listen to you and help you understand your rights
  • Gather information and details related to what happened
  • Explain the law and what outcomes you might expect
  • Take the stress and paperwork off of you
  • File a charge with the EEOC
  • Advocate for you and your rights

Speak With a Lawyer About Your Case

If you believe that an employer has asked you illegal questions, contact Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP now. Our SoCal employment attorneys are committed to fighting for the rights of workers in our community. With focused client service and big firm power, we’ll keep you informed and up-to-date every step of the way.

The lawyers at Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP are ready to talk with you. For a free case evaluation, reach out to us today.

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