Know your rights as a job candidate

Familiarize yourself with discriminatory questions that you do not have to answer, and consult an experienced employment discrimination lawyer if you have been subjected to them

Not every question is “fair game” in a job interview. Some questions that prospective employers pose to job candidates in interviews violate the law. What types of questions might you face in a job interview that could infringe on your legal rights?

An employer cannot ask you if you have children, if you are married, or if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

A question seeking information about your children may constitute Family Responsibilities Discrimination — a type of sex discrimination prohibited by federal law. The question is prohibited because the employer may impermissibly infer from the fact that you have children that you have family responsibilities that may detract from your commitment to the workplace.

Questions on marital status are also forbidden. The New Hampshire Law Against Discrimination provides that an employer cannot refuse to hire or employ an individual because of the individual’s marital status.

Similarly, an employer cannot ask if you pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, because such questions constitute pregnancy discrimination. Employers are not entitled to decline to employ an applicant because the employee may require maternity leave or may have child care commitments in the future.

Questions about your age also cross the line. Federal law protects workers over the age of 40 from age discrimination, while state law prohibits all discrimination because of age.

People interviewing for jobs should also not have to face questions regarding their race, religion or their national origin. The employer can ask if you are a United States citizen, and can ask you if you can work in the United States, but questions regarding the countries in which you or your parents were born constitute illegal national origin discrimination. 

If you believe you have been asked illegal questions in an employment interview, you should consult an experienced employment discrimination lawyer to evaluate your rights.

Benjamin King is an attorney specializing in employment law at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. in Concord.

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