This blog has discussed previously the several types of discrimination in employment that are illegal under federal and Oklahoma law. These include discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, ethnicity, age or disability. We have also touched on the fact that discrimination is illegal both in the workplace itself and in the process of deciding which employees to promote or which to hire in the first place. Because of this, let's take a look at some interview questions that may not be advisable to ask in an interview for a new hire or promotion to a new job title.
Many times, employers may not necessarily have discriminatory intent in asking certain questions that may be seen as potential discrimination. They may think that the answer is relevant to the position. However, it is important that interview questions focus only on ability to perform job functions. One common problem some interviewers have is with female applicants and whether they have children or plan to have them. While the purpose may be to determine ability to perform the job tasks, the actual questions used should be specifically tailored. Women have protection not only under federal civil rights statutes, but also under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. As such, there are a few questions that tend to pertain more to women than to men that may be problematic.
For example, asking about a person's marital status or whether or not she has children could be seen as discriminatory. Also asking about future plans regarding children, such as whether the applicant uses birth control, plans to have children, or what kind of childcare she uses might be deemed illegal. If the purpose is to determine ability to do certain job tasks it may be better to focus on them with questions such as "do you have the ability to travel for work?," or "do you anticipate conflicts with your work schedule?"
Of course there are many other potential interview pitfalls, such as questions about race or age or financial status. Employers who would like to avoid discrimination complaints, or employees who think they have been discriminated against in interviews may wish to think about speaking with an experienced Oklahoma employment law attorney.