MJBizMag May-June 2022 - 50

SALARY AND HIRING ISSUE
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What Not to Ask
R
ecruiters and executives who do
a lot of hiring can spend hours
crafting the perfect interview
questions. But some questions are
better left unasked, especially those
that are overly personal or put your
company at risk of an employment
discrimination suit.
According to the U.S. Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC), workplace discrimination
applies to job applicants and former
employees, not just current staff
members. Applicants are protected
from discrimination based on
disability, genetic information
(including family medical history),
national origin, race, religion and sex
(including gender identity, pregnancy
and sexual orientation).
The best way to avoid a potentially
disastrous and costly interview is to
stick to questions that directly reflect
the candidate's ability to do specific
tasks required for the job.
Additionally, familiarize yourself
with the following questions to learn
why the EEOC considers these and
similar queries off-limits.
1. Do you have a
disability?
This question falls squarely under the
EEOC's " can't ask " category-even if the
disability is obvious, such as the use of
a wheelchair.
While it is acceptable to ask if an
applicant would require reasonable
accommodations to complete tasks
outlined in the job description, asking
questions that coerce an applicant to
discuss a disability violates federal
employment law.
50 May-June 2022 | MJBizMagazine
Contacting an individual's doctor
or previous employer to learn their
disability status is similarly illegal-and
downright creepy.
Other off-limits questions include:
Do you take any medications?
Have you ever filed a workers'
compensation claim? Do you have a
family history of illness?
2. Are you married?
Asking about a job applicant's marital
status during an interview is fraught
with potential problems. Applicants
that are not hired could claim they were
not given full consideration because of
disclosing their marital status.
Similarly, if an applicant joins the
company and later feels they are treated
differently than their colleagues, they
could make a legal claim that they were
hired because of their marital status and
it was later used against them.
3. Do you have children?
Inquiring about an applicant's children
and child-care plans is illegal.
Asking a job applicant whether they
are pregnant or have plans to grow
their family is an equally bad idea,
regardless of the individual's sex or
gender. A good rule of thumb: If a
question doesn't directly involve the
Five questions to avoid when interviewing potential hires
By Kate Lavin
applicant's ability to perform essential
job functions, don't ask it.
4. Is English your first
language?
If proficiency in a second language is
necessary for the job, questions and
even tests to gauge language skills
make sense. However, questions
meant to learn an applicant's race or
immigration status have no place in
an interview.
Also don't ask: Where are your parents
from? Were you born in this country?
Most job applications contain the
question: Are you eligible to work in the
United States? If an applicant answers
yes, that is all you need to know.
5. How old are you?
Each regulated cannabis market has
its own rules governing the minimum
age of employment for plant-touching
companies. For example, one county
in Montana is currently being sued to
change the minimum age to work at a
dispensary from 21 to 18.
That said, employees 40 and older are
protected from discrimination based
on age. While it is not technically illegal
to ask a job applicant their age, a better
question is whether they are legally able
to work at your facility.
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MJBizMag May-June 2022

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