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There are a few questions that may seem normal, but as we know, 2019 is a different time in America. Both State and Federal Laws prevent employers from asking questions that can be regarded as discriminatory, and there are regulations in place that could make you liable. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recognized discrimination in any of the following scenarios, as well as provided examples of what you can and can’t ask during the hiring process. It may not seem too difficult to cross some of these lines, but some of the others may surprise you. 

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against people who are 40 and over. Some states have laws in place for ages under 40. 
Illegal To Ask
What year were you born?
When did you graduate high school?
What You Can Ask
When there is legal age requirements in place, employers may ask for proof of age. 

Disability Discrimination

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), it is illegal for employers to treat qualified applicants with disabilities unfavorably because they have a disability; a history of disability; or because they are believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory and minor, even if the applicant does not have such an impairment. 
Illegal To Ask
Do you have a disability?
Do you have asthma?
Do you have a heart condition?
Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
What You Can Ask
You may ask whether potential applicants may need reasonable accommodations to perform, and what accommodations would be needed. 
You may describe physical requirements of a job and ask to demonstrate how they would perform the job.
Phrase any questions in a way that does not force the applicant to reveal if they do or do not have a disability.

Race, Identity, National Origin

There are several rules in place that prevent you from digging into a person’s genetics, nationality and race. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids treating applicants unfavorably because of any race or race characteristics. This is the case for ethnicity and genetics as well. Under Title II of The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) makes it illegal to discriminate against applicants because of their genetic information. 
Illegal To Ask
Do You have a family history of Heart Disease?
Has Anyone in your family been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Where are your parents from?
Where did you grow up?
What is that accent?
Anything regarding applicant’s race. 
What You Can Ask
Are you legally authorized to work in the U.S.?
Some employers may need further info regarding race for affirmative action purposes or applicant flow. You are free to ask this information on a job application* provided there is legitimate reasoning. Any questions during an interview are likely to be used as evidence of discrimination.
These are only a few examples of what you can and cannot ask a potential applicant in 2019. Even ten years ago, things were a lot different, but your company’s reputation is extremely important today. The wrong news story can go a long way in today’s social media driven world, and you should always do your due diligence in being best prepared to hire the best possible candidate. 
If you have any questions about pre employment background screening, just give us a call or reach out via our contact form!