Stay Legal on Global Employee Interviews | DCR Workforce Blog

Stay Legal on Global Employee Interviews

Any assessment or selection process tends to get colored by the individual beliefs and stereotypes that come in as a part and parcel of the psyche of the people involved. Many times, this could result in the disqualification of someone’s candidature for reasons other than their capability to meet the demands and requirements of the role they had applied for. In a Global context, having the recruiters having strong prejudices against certain races, religions or foreign nationals taking jobs away is against the spirit of the EEOC’s tenets against discrimination.

To counteract this negative effect, the EEOC has put in place a set of questions which are taboo under the law in our environment which is not just multi-cultural but also multi-racial to ensure that no one faces discrimination on the basis of their race, color, religion, sex or national origin making them protected characteristics which should have absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the selection process.

  1. What is your race? is an illegal question about a protected characteristic and may invoke charges of discrimination on the interviewer. This information may be obtained by an employer only when initiating an affirmative action plan or to meet any other recordkeeping requirements for the government. However, to stay on the right side of law, an employer will need to store such information separately and not as a part of the employee record – in a tear-off sheet.
  2. Are you a United States citizen? is a question that has no place in a pre-employment scrutiny. Note the stress on the pre-employment because the same enquiry is mandatory after the person is employed because it will then become necessary to establish the bona-fides of the person’s visa status as an employee and employment eligibility. A lawful immigrant is legally eligible to work and may not be discriminated against on the basis of citizenship – unless in the interest of national security.
  3. What religion are you? – unless you are a religious institution, it is not legal to ask someone about the religion they practice. By extension, you cannot ask anyone if they would be willing to work on holidays, Saturdays and Sundays – unless it can be unequivocally proved that the question was required by the job and not to abet any discrimination.
  4. What is your maiden name? is another way to ascertain a female applicant’s marital status and leaves the door open to possible discrimination on the basis of potential issues with her commitment to family, child-bearing and rearing plans and hence, disallowed in a pre-employment scrutiny.
  5. What is your nationality? – this question has been known to be posed in many creative ways as an inquiry into the person/parents’ place of birth, native language, mother tongue, language spoken at home, about the ability to use a foreign language with comfort, familiarity with a foreign place, exotic nature of either the person’s looks or name and  seek its origins.

The line taken by the EEOC to render certain information legally off limits is in line with the research reports of scientific inquiry, which have established that people will carry prejudices, given the differences in the various racial and ethnic groups and bringing a change about will require a lot of work which can progress only in a slow and steady manner.

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.