Savvy business owners know that there are few legal landmines they need to side-step when interviewing candidates for a job. Sometimes, though, even the best get caught with their proverbial foot in the mouth by asking a question that to them seems innocent enough but could land the company in legal hot water.
Here are some tips for how to conduct the perfect (legally speaking) interview:
Avoid age-related questions. Even something as innocuous as commenting on how young a person looks for their level of experience can lead to trouble. Age discrimination is a big issue these days with so many people over 40 looking for work. Steer clear of anything age-related.
Avoid origin of birth questions. If you ask a candidate where they were born or citizenship status, this could imply discrimination on the basis of national origin. Instead ask if the potential employee has the right to work in the U.S. and if they can provide verification – which the law requires them to do if hired.
Refrain from the religious. You know you can’t discriminate on the basis of religious belief, but how do you find out if religious holidays will interfere with the job? Be sure to explain if working weekends is part of the job and inquire about their flexibility to serve under these conditions.
Steer clear of family questions. Asking about marital status or any plans to have children is verboten. And what if the person is married, but to someone of the same sex? Many states prohibit companies from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor that invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, it is likely to become a federal issue as well.
Avoid health-related queries. Employers are not allowed to discriminate against potential employees with a disability, so you should avoid this area of inquiry. If there is some doubt about their ability to perform, you should ask about his or her ability to perform certain job functions.
If you’re a small or mid-size business owner, call us today to schedule your comprehensive LIFT™ (legal, insurance, financial and tax) Foundation Audit.