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Legal and Illegal Preemployment Inquiries


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The chart below outlines the type of information you can ask for in applications and during job interviews as specified in federal laws. The chart may also be sufficient for complying with the laws of your state, but check with your state's civil rights department.

Subject Lawful Pre-employment Inquiries Unlawful Pre-employment Inquiries
Name Applicant's full name.

Have you ever worked for this company under a different name?

Is any additional information relative to a different name necessary to check work record? If yes, explain.
Original name of an applicant whose name has been changed by court order or otherwise.

Applicant's maiden name.
Address or Duration of Residence How long have you been a resident of this state or city?
Birthplace Birthplace of applicant.

Birthplace of applicant's parents, spouse, or other close relatives.

Requirements that applicant submit birth certificate, naturalization, or baptismal record.
Age Are you 18 years old or older? This question may be asked only for the purpose of determining whether applicants are of legal age for employment.
Religion or Creed Inquiry into an applicant's religious denomination, religious affiliations, church, parish, pastor, or religious holidays observed.
Race or Color Complexion or color of skin.
Photograph Any requirement for a photograph prior to hire.
Height Inquiry regarding applicant's height.
Weight Inquiry regarding applicant's weight.
Marital Status Is your spouse employed by this employer? Requirement that an applicant provide any information regarding marital status or children. Are you single or married? Do you have any children? Is your spouse employed? What is your spouse's name?
Gender Mr., Miss, or Mrs. or an inquiry regarding gender. Inquiry as to the ability to reproduce or advocacy of any form of birth control. Requirement that women be given pelvic examinations.
Disability Inquiries regarding an individual's physical or mental condition that are not directly related to the requirements of a specific job and are used as a factor in making employment decisions in a way which is contrary to the provisions or purposes of the Civil Rights Act.
Citizenship Are you a citizen of the United States?

If not a citizen of the United States, does applicant intend to become a citizen of the United States?

If you are not a United States citizen, have you the legal right to remain permanently in the United States? Do you intend to remain permanently in the United States?

To avoid discrimination based on national origin, the questions above should be asked after the individual has been hired even if it is related to the federal I-9 process.
Questions below are unlawful unless asked as part of the federal I-9 process.

Of what country are you a citizen?

Whether an applicant is naturalized or a native-born citizen; the date when the applicant acquired citizenship.

Requirement that an applicant produce naturalization papers or first papers.

Whether applicant's parents or spouse are naturalized or native-born citizens of the United States: the date when such parent or spouse acquired citizenship.
National Origin Inquiry into language that applicant speaks and writes fluently. Inquiry into applicant's lineage, ancestry, national origin, descent, parentage, or nationality.

Nationality of applicant's parents or spouse.
Education Inquiry into the academic, vocational, or professional education of an applicant and public and private schools attended. Inquiry into how applicant acquired ability to read, write, or speak a foreign language.
Experience Inquiry into work experience.

Inquiry into countries that the applicant has visited.
Arrests Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

Are there any felony charges pending against you?
Inquiry regarding arrests that did not result in conviction.

(Except for law enforcement agencies)
Relatives Names of applicant's relatives already employed by this company. Address of any relative of applicant, other than address (within the United States) of applicant's father and mother, husband or wife, and minor dependent children.
Notice in Case of Emergency Name and address of person to be notified in case of accident or emergency. Name and address of nearest relative to be notified in case of accident or emergency.
Organizations Inquiry into the organizations of which an applicant is a member, excluding organizations the name or character of which indicates the race, color, religion, national origin, or ancestry of its members. List all clubs, societies, and lodges to which you belong.

Copyright © 2000 Nolo.com Inc.




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