You often here people speak about illegal job interview questions. In the United States laws have been passed to protect individuals from being discriminated against unfairly during their job search. It is very important to understand why a certain question is considered illegal and the laws that have been passed to protect us from discrimination.
A person cannot be discriminated against because of their race, color or nation of origin. The law that protects us from such discrimination is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law was also expanded to other groups in later years. A good example of a question that would not be acceptable under this law is; “Being a black man, how do you feel you will fit in with a predominately white female staff?”
Your religion can not be a factor in the hiring decision of the potential employer. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects job seekers from this type of discrimination. A question during the job interview of “What religion are you?” would be considered illegal.
Sex, marriage and pregnancy cannot be weighed against a job seeker. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 insures that. A good example of a question that would not be inappropriate during the job search is “Are you planning on having any children in the near future?”
The Wagner Act of 1935 protects people from being discriminated against because of affiliations to groups a potential employee may have currently or in the passed. This is primarily focused on union membership. Because of this law a potential employer can not ask a question such as “Have you ever been a member of a union?”
A person’s age cannot legally be a factor in the hiring process. This protection is given under the Age Discrimination in Employment Acts of 1967. If during the job interview a job seeker is asked a question such as “How old are you and do you need health benefits?” they would be breaking the law.
Someone having a disability cannot negatively impact someone during the hiring process under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1964. A question such as “Do you have any physical disabilities?” or “Do you seek any type of mental help?” is illegal.
Even though these types of questions are illegal many interviewers do ask them. Not because of any type of predetermined motive but because they are not aware they are breaking the law. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. If questions like these are asked and you feel uncomfortable answering them you are well within your rights not to.