What Questions Are Illegal To Ask At A Job Interview In California?
Unfortunately, many employers and employees in California do not know what questions are illegal to ask during a job interview. If you are looking for a job in California, it is vital to understand your rights during the hiring process.
If you believe that you were asked an illegal question during a job interview, do not hesitate to speak with our Los Angeles discrimination & harassment attorneys at Obagi Law Group, P.C.
7 Illegal Questions to Ask During a Job Interview
Some job interview questions are unlawful, which is why every job applicant in California should watch out for discriminatory or otherwise illegal questions.
- Questions about national origin
National origin is one of the protected characteristics under the federal law enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Even seemingly “legal” questions such as “Where are you from?” and “How long have you lived in California or the United States?” may be discriminatory in nature.
Note: An employer may legally ask a potential employee if they are authorized to work in the U.S. unless the question is discriminatory.
- Questions about age
Employers are prohibited from asking their prospective employees about age under California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA laws prohibit not only direct questions such as “How old are you?” and “When were you born?” but also indirect questions such as “What year did you graduate?” and others.
Note: Questions about age are not restricted if the role has minimum-age requirements.
- Questions about medical conditions
A medical condition is listed as a protected characteristic under the FEHA law. Thus, employers in California are prohibited from asking job applicants about their health history, medical conditions, injuries, or mental health during job interviews.
Note: Employers are allowed to ask prospective employees if they are able to perform the essential duties of the job if the employer has clearly described the employee’s duties. Also, questions about medical conditions may be legal to ask if the information is directly related to the job duties.
- Questions about criminal history
The Fair Chance Act, which became effective on January 1, 2018, makes it illegal to ask potential employees about their criminal history. Under the relatively new law, employers with 5 or more employees are prohibited from asking a job candidate about their criminal history or prior convictions before making a job offer.
- Questions about salary history
While questions such as, “What are your salary expectations for the job?” are legal, it is illegal for employers to ask job applicants about their previous salary history.
- Questions about religion
Direct questions about the job applicant’s religion are unlawful. Employers also cannot ask potential employees indirect questions that could reveal their religion, such as “What holidays do you celebrate?”
- Questions about marital status
A job applicant’s marital status is a protected characteristic under California’s discrimination laws, which is why employers cannot ask direct questions such as, “Are you married?” “Do you have a husband/wife?” and “Do you have children?” during the hiring process.
Indirect questions such as, “Does your spouse work?” are also illegal during job interviews.
Note: Questions about marital status are legal after a job applicant has been hired.
If your prospective employer in California asked any of the above-mentioned illegal questions during the interview process, contact a skilled employment law attorney as soon as possible. Schedule a consultation with our discrimination lawyers at 424-284-2401 to discuss your situation.