"Are you married?" "Are you or your partner pregnant?" "To which religion do you belong?" "How old are you?" Those are just some of the questions that can be used by job interviewers to discriminate against individuals in protected classes. Unfortunately, Americans are still being asked those questions in job interviews, a recent Associated Press-CNBC poll found.
The poll found that half of all Americans who have ever applied for jobs have been asked for information that could be used to discriminate against them. For instance, 35 percent of poll respondents said they had been asked for their age and about the same number said they had been asked about their marital status.
Because it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on age, race, health, religion or pregnancy status, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) advises interviewers not to ask questions about those matters. Yet employers and interviewers frequently do it anyway.
The Associated Press reports that 21 percent of people applying for jobs say they have been asked to give interviewers their medical history or to disclose whether they have a disability. Eleven percent of respondents said they have been asked about pregnancy (or plans to become pregnant) and 9 percent were asked to disclose their religious beliefs.
Experts say that those kinds of improper questions can be signs that an employer wants to exclude certain types of people from their workforce.
"It's pretty common to be asked questions that are inappropriate," said an employment law attorney. "Usually the bad stuff happens verbally."
Those who have been discriminated against in hiring or on the job can protect their rights and careers by speaking with a lawyer experienced in employment law litigation.