Employee rights with employment inquiries, Part II

Employees and applicants for jobs in California need to have an understanding of what employers are allowed to ask in regards to personal information. This is based on the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. A previous post gave a basic foundation of what this law entails and certain specifics about it.

In regards to sex, gender identity, gender expression, marital status and family, there can be no questions regarding the person’s sex, gender expression, gender identity, marital status or questions about any children or dependents when it comes to their age and how many there are. Questions about pregnancy, birth control and child birth cannot be asked. There can be no questions about sexual orientation.

The credit report cannot be examined to determine marital status, residency or age. An employer is allowed to ask the employee for a photograph when hired, but there cannot be questions about height and weight. An employer or prospective employer cannot ask that a photo be attached to the application even if it is portrayed as optional. There cannot be a photograph required after the interview or prior to employment. In regards to disabilities, the employer can ask if the applicant is capable of performing duties that are related to the job. The job itself might hinge on whether or not the person can pass physical and mental tests. However, it can be deemed disability discrimination if there is an inquiry into the general health, medical condition or disability.

An employer can ask about arrests or convictions in the past, but not about those that have been expunged or sealed. There cannot be general questions regarding these matters. Military service in connection to applicable skills related to the job can be discussed, but general questions about military service, including the type of discharge or service in a foreign military cannot be asked. The employer can ask for a list of organizations, clubs or professional societies the person was involved in, but not general questions about it.

Those who believe they have been asked questions or were subjected to inquiries that violated their employee rights and either were deprived of the job or lost it because of that might have legal recourse. Speaking to a legal professional who has a history of handling cases related to workplace discrimination can provide more information into pursuing compensation.

Source: dfeh.ca.gov, “Employment Inquiries — What can employers ask applicants and employees?,” accessed on July 4, 2016

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