If you’re a business owner, you know there are a lot of topics that come up during a job interview, and most of them are innocent enough. But sometimes, even the most innocent questions can have serious employment law implications. A perfect example, and subject of part one of this series, are the questions, “how many kids do you have and how old are they?” Questions like this one, particularly when systematically asked to only female applicants, are risky. Even when posed to both male and female applicants, the EEOC states that it will consider questions like this, and the ones listed below, when determining if a company is violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex-based discrimination.
Sometimes this information comes out in an interview without solicitation, but remember whether you ask, or they tell, you should not use the information to make your hiring decisions. Questions like the one posed above, should only be asked after an offer of employment is made and accepted, and only for legitimate business reasons such as insurance. If, for example, your business is thinking about not hiring someone because they have small kids and you’re concerned that it will take away from their hours, think again.
FYI the EEOC instructs that the following inquires may be regarded as evidence of intent to discriminate when asked in the pre-employment context:
Whether the applicant is pregnant.
Marital status of applicant or whether applicant plans to marry.
Number and age of children or future child bearing plans.
Child care arrangements.
Employment status of spouse.
Name of spouse.