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Your Legal Rights During a Job Interview

By Andrew Lu on August 10, 2012 9:54 AM

You may not know it, but employment laws play a big role in the job hiring process long before you even become an employee.

Some laws affect what kind of advertisements the employer can place in looking for a qualified candidate. Other laws affect the legal rights a candidate has as soon as an interview begins. And even if you're never hired, this may have no effect on your legal remedies.

Here are three common legal issues that come up during a job interview:

  1. Discriminatory Questions. Employers cannot illegally discriminate in its hiring process based on an applicant's protected characteristics like race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, or religion. Most employers are savvy enough to avoid questions/comments that are directly discriminatory. But you should be on the lookout for questions regarding your marital status (employers afraid of maternity leave), year of graduation (age discrimination), and ability to do the job (if you have a disability). If an employer asks a potentially discriminatory question, you can politely ask them to stop.

  2. Background Checks. Prospective employers have access to a treasure trove of personal information, both online and offline, which may factor into their hiring decisions. However, while most public information is fair game, state background check laws may prohibit employers from accessing and considering certain types of information like criminal records, military records, and medical history during the hiring process.

  3. Oral Promises. If things go great, your employer may make a job offer. When considering the offer, make sure you get all promises regarding pay, benefits, and job responsibilities in writing. It can be difficult to enforce oral promises made during the interview.

If you have any specific questions regarding your legal rights at an interview, you may want to contact an employment attorney.

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