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National Origin and Race Discrimination During the Interview Process

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Aug 04, 2013 | 0 Comments

What Interview Questions that are Illegal?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit employers from asking certain questions about  your race, color, ethnicity or national origin while vetting job applicants. These laws are in place, in part to protect you against race discrimination during you application process, interview, or while testing for a specific job.  It is important to note that while many areas of questioning are prohibited before you get the job, you may be required to answer some of them once you are hired.

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Here are examples of Illegal Interview Questions Relating to National Origin or Race Discrimination

  1. Are you a U.S. citizen?
  2. Where were you (or your parents) born?
  3. Were you (or your parents) born in the United States?
  4. What is your native language?
  5. Is English your native language?
  6. What language do you speak while at home?
  7. What is your nationality/race/heritage?
  8. Are you a member of a minority group?
  9. What does your name mean?

An employer may ask you one of these legal questions in order to determine some of the information above.

  1. Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  2. Are you fluent in Spanish/French/other language?
  3. What language(s) do you speak, write, or read fluently?

What should you do if you are asked an Illegal Question?

It is your choice to answer or refuse the question.  It's important to consider the intent of the question.  In some cases the person asking could be unaware of the law and had no intent on being deliberately discriminatory.

When you feel that you have experienced race discrimination during your interview process you may file a charge with the EEOC.   Contact an attorney at Kingsley&Kingsley at 888-500-8469 to discuss your situation.  We can answer your questions and help you file your case.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, the firm's lawyer and co-founder, Eric B. Kingsley, has litigated complex cases and written numerous appeals in state and federal courts on behalf of the California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, including More than 150 collective actions. Mr. Kingsley focuses his practice ...


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