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Can a potential employer ask about that?

If you are struggling to find work, you are not alone. Many in Oregon and across the country are looking for a better job or even any job at all. For some, it is a more difficult quest than for others. Even someone who is well qualified for a job may find it difficult to attain if the interview questions cross the line.

The laws are very clear about the questions a potential employer may or may not ask you during an interview. This is to protect you from discrimination that may occur during the hiring process. Although these laws have been in place for decades, some employers still may not respect your rights during a job interview.

Stepping over the line

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 names numerous protected factors that a potential employer may not consider when making hiring decisions. Sometimes, there is a delicate line between trying to determine if you are qualified and capable of fulfilling the duties and violating your civil rights. Still, a potential employer should be knowledgeable of the laws that protect you and the restrictions on the questions he or she may ask. Some topics a job interview may not broach include the following:

  • Questions about whether you have children or plan to have children in the future
  • Questions about your marital status or sexual orientation
  • Questions related to your religious affiliation or practices
  • Questions about your national origin
  • Questions about your military status, type of discharge or potential deployments

During your job interview, an employer may not ask about physical or mental disabilities you may have. However, after offering you a job, the employer may ask if you require any accommodations as long as he or she asks every new hire the same questions. However, during the hiring process, the interviewer has no right to ask about your medical history, workers' compensation claims, prescription drugs or other personal questions about your physical or mental health.

A job interview is stressful enough. You should not have to face unlawful questions from a potential employer who may be making a hiring decision that is not related to your ability to do the job. You have a right to decline to answer any questions that are not within the scope of the law or to seek advice if you feel an employer refused to hire you based on discriminatory reasons.

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