Is It Legal to Ask How You’re Going to Care for Your Children at a Job Interview?
Few people actually look forward to a job interview. In fact, most people get at least a little nervous every time they have to go through the interview process. Not knowing what questions you will be asked is one of the primary reasons for interview anxiety. Although there is no way to know with any certainty what questions you will be asked in an interview, you should be able to know what questions you won’t be asked. Some questions are discriminatory after all, right? Not exactly. For example, is it illegal to ask how you are going to care for your children at a job interview?
Asking a woman questions relating to her children, her future plans to have children, or how she plans to arrange care for her children if she is hired was once common practice in the United States. That was a long time ago though. Since that time, a number of state and federal laws have been passed aimed at ending discriminatory practices in the workplace. Assuming that a woman will have a difficult time arranging childcare and/or that she will not be as dedicated to her job as a man would be are both discriminatory assumptions by just about anyone’s standards. The question, however, is whether the law makes it illegal to ask about these concerns in an interview. Contrary to what many people believe, the answer is usually “no” it is not illegal to ask an applicant questions about children, pregnancy, or childcare. What is illegal though is to make hiring decisions based on the answers to those questions.
Both federal law and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibit sex-based employment discrimination. Sex discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person's sex and applies to all facets of employment, including the hiring process. As such, if an employer made a decision not to hire you based on your answers to the question regarding your childcare arrangements that decision would likely qualify as sex discrimination.
Most employers are aware of the state and federal anti-discrimination laws and do their best to avoid violating them. Toward that end, most employers steer clear of questions that could lead to a discriminatory decision. Not asking the question in the first place is the best way to ensure that an answer to the question cannot form the basis of an employment discrimination claim.
The bottom line is that while questions such as “What childcare arrangements do you have in place for your children if you are hired?” are not necessarily illegal, the answers could lead to employment discrimination. Therefore, most employers choose to play it safe and not ask the questions in the first place.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in the workplace, contact an experienced Conshohocken, Pennsylvania employment law attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Contact the employment law attorneys at Curley & Rothman, LLC by calling 610-834-8819 today to schedule your free consultation.