Your Rights During a Job Interview

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Ever wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced with and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

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What questions are employers allowed to ask at a job interview?

Getting ready for an interview can be a pretty nerve-wracking process. Trying to identify every possible question a potential employer may ask you and coming up with intelligent, yet witty responses are no easy tasks. But when you factor in trying to stay away from certain topics and things that you feel may not work in your favor during the interview, the process may feel like a minefield, where you’re dodging questions that may get you into trouble. There are some questions that employers are forbidden from asking. Here is a list of several common prohibited inquiries:

1) Religion, Race, Birthplace, National Origin, etc.

2) Marital/ Family status

3) Whether you are a member of a union

4) Whether you have a disability (except if they relate to performance of the job)

5) Questions designed to exclude employees on a prohibited discriminatory basis

6) Questions which would violate state laws preventing invasion of privacy

7) Your credit history, unless such information is used solely for necessary job related purposes

Note: Drug testing is permissible in most states.

Also, note that although an employer may not discriminate based upon gender, there is no law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, some states and cities have laws which prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation (for example: California, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Chicago).

Remember also that though employers are technically not allowed to ask certain questions, some will inevitably break the rules. If you’re confronted by a nosy interviewer, you can try to change the topic of conversation or avoid the question altogether. You may also simply refuse to answer a question which might cost you the job if the question makes you very uncomfortable. But while avoiding certain topics may ultimately land you a job, you may wish to consider whether you want to work somewhere that disapproves of a certain aspect of your life. Living with a big secret can be exhausting!

If you believe that you were discriminated against during a job interview and wish to file a claim, there are a few things you may wish to consider first. You may want to determine whether the interviewer intended to discriminate, because if he did not, then you may not have much of a case. If the interviewer was merely ignorant and you don’t have a strong case, you may not want to invest your time, energy and money fighting. If you believe that an employer has discriminated against you illegally, then you may file a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).


• Interviewing Skills
• Employers Rights During Interviews

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The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985.In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987.

Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It . ( Watch the Video ) and Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life

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