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3 interview questions that employers legally can’t ask

Whether you’re right out of college, later in your career or somewhere in between, struggling with job searches is something everyone faces at some point. While employers across Texas can’t legally consider protected characteristics in their hiring decisions, many still do. Being aware of off-limit topics can help you spot employment discrimination.

When did you graduate?

Although age discrimination isn’t as prevalent as other forms of employment discrimination, it still happens. Even though this question seems to be normal, employers can’t legally use age in hiring decisions. While employers can legally ask you about whether you did graduate high school or college, they can’t ask when you graduated.

Have you had any arrests in the past six months?

According to U.S. law, courts consider defendants innocent until proven guilty. In practice, society tends to view arrests as equal to convictions. For example, news outlets across the country report arrests just hours or days after the fact. Even though criminal cases can take months, if not years, to reach a conclusion, people don’t wait to judge defendants until courts have convicted them.

In Texas, employers can legally use criminal histories in making hiring decisions. However, they can only consider convictions, no-contest pleas and guilty pleas. In other words, employers in the Lone Star State can’t ask candidates about their arrest records.

Employers also shouldn’t look up your arrest records online. Although you won’t have evidence of this unless a state or federal regulator kicks off an investigation, it could strengthen your workplace discrimination case if regulators find evidence of this practice.

What’s your sexual orientation?

In recent years, many entities across the United States have spoken out in favor of LGBT employees. Businesses’ decision makers have gone out of their way to modify workplace cultures to openly include people identifying as LGBT. Although hiring managers, owners or other decision-makers might ask this question out of goodwill, employment law doesn’t see eye-to-eye with these individuals. Even if you feel that interviewers asked this question in good faith, you could possibly use this question against them in the future to demonstrate a pattern of discrimination.

Finding a job is difficult enough as it is. Now that you know more about illegal employment questions, you’ll have a better sense of whether potential employers are treating you fairly or not. If you have been treated unfairly, an attorney may evaluate your case and help you file a claim.