Interviewing applicants for jobs typically involves questions and sometimes testing. As an employer, you should be aware that some questions have a negative impact on certain protected classes. Protected classes are groups of people based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status or age (age 40 and older).
If your method of screening out applicants eliminates a protected class, you should consider using a different screening method. Find another effective alternative that has less of a negative impact and use it instead. Also, your questions should be strictly related to determining whether the individual can perform the job.
According to the EEOC , here are examples of negative questions or testing:
- Requirements for a certain height or weight range often negatively affect female applicants.
- Making applicants pass agility tests can negatively affect older applicants.
- Requirements that employees live in certain geographic regions can negatively affect applicants of a particular race.
- Broadly excluding applicants with criminal records can negatively affect applicants of a certain race or origin.
How Can You Substitute Testing/Questions with Better Alternatives?
One way to deal with a height or weight requirement is to determine instead whether the person is able to perform the specific job duties safely and efficiently.
If you have agility tests, ensure they are related to a legitimate business purpose, such as being quick enough or strong enough to perform the job being applied for.
Instead of requiring that people live in a geographic area, find out whether they are familiar with the area. Ask whether they could respond to service requests within that area. Whatever the job related reason is for wanting them to know the area is what is important, not actual residency.
Stephen Hans & Associates is an employment and labor law firm that assists small and medium sized business owners. This has been our legal focus for more than 20 years.