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Know your rights as a job applicant

A job applicant is protected by legal rights even before they officially become an employee. Under state, federal, and some local laws, all employers are required to conduct a hiring process that does not in any way discriminate based on an applicant’s race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, or disability. Any employer who fails to abide by these laws can be subject to litigation.

Depending on factors such as how the job position was advertised or what was asked or said during an interview or pre-employment test, you may request the assistance of an employment lawyer in San Diego to help you take legal action in case your rights were violated during the hiring process.

If you’re currently applying for your next job, here’s what you need to know to protect your legal rights during the hiring process.

Federal law and issues concerning discrimination

Enforcing laws that prohibit job discrimination is under the responsibility of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Whenever an employer advertises available positions, it is illegal for them to discourage or show a preference for applicants based on certain factors. 

In general, employers should avoid asking applicants any questions that are related to classes protected by discrimination laws. Here are types of queries that should not be asked of you by a potential employer during an interview.

  • Your marital status
  • Whether you currently have children or planning to have children
  • Your race
  • Your age (except when inquiring whether or not you’re over 18) 
  • Your sexual preference
  • Your religion
  • Your citizenship status
  • Whether you have a physical or mental disability
  • Questions related to drug or alcohol use

Job applicants may raise questions regarding the factors above during the interview. The employer may then discuss these topics further to address specific questions raised by the applicant. The applicant might have a discrimination claim in case the employer decides not to hire them based on one of these factors.

State and local laws

Most US states have employment-related discrimination laws similar to federal law. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects applicants from all employment agencies, public and private employers, and labor organizations (CA Gov. Code Sec. 12900 et seq.) who discriminate based on the factors mentioned above during the hiring process.

FEHA prohibits any employers from asking any job-related questions that directly or indirectly express discrimination regarding any protected characteristic. This applies to all types of inquiries as well, including the job application form. 

The FEHA also requires employers to extend a conditional offer of employment prior to requiring applicants to undergo a medical examination.  

Credit history

Due to current economic conditions, many people now left with subpar credit records. For this reason, a growing number of states have approved laws that prohibit employers from requesting credit reports from applicants in the hiring process, at least for certain job positions. 

You may have a legal claim in case an employer chooses not to hire you based on your credit report.

Criminal records

State laws dictate whether, and to what extent, employers can make a hiring decision based on an applicant’s criminal history. In some states, employers are not allowed to consider prior arrests, sealed or expunged convictions, or convictions that are in no way related to the job position. However, criminal record checks are allowed for certain employment positions in some states. 

Workers’ compensation claims

Most states restrict employers from refusing to hire an applicant who has filed for workers’ compensation in their previous job. While there are some exceptions, you may have a legal claim in case a potential employer decides not to hire you simply because you managed to collect workers’ compensation in the past.

Exceptions to discrimination laws

There are some exceptions to discrimination laws, which generally apply to positions that have physical requirements that make a physically challenged individual unable to sufficiently perform their duties.  

Job applicants also question whether specifying a certain age in a job advertisement is legal. In such cases, it all depends on the job position and the organization involved. 

Have your rights been violated while trying to apply for a job?

If you believe that any of your rights have been violated at any point during the hiring process, you should get in touch with an experienced employment lawyer in San Diego to safeguard your legal rights and discuss your options. 

Contact us today. Visit this page to learn more about recent employment law cases, verdicts, and awards in San Diego, CA.

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