As a job seeker, it is particularly difficult to know what to do when an application has questions you may be uncomfortable answering, or when one has illegal questions. After all, you would not be applying if you didn’t want the job (or needed the income), so unwittingly complying with illegal directives is common, and can foster discriminatory practices.

Through this post we hope to educate job seekers on what to look out for on applications. As always, the following is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

Questions asking about disabilities or medical conditions – These questions could run afoul of EEOC regulations or the Americans with Disabilities Act, and could be used as reasons to disqualify an otherwise worthy applicant.

A non-discrimination statement – The application should have a statement explaining that the employer is an “equal opportunity employer” and does not discriminate based on federally protected classifications (i.e. race, sex, disability, national origin, etc.).

Questions about arrests and convictions – Questions about arrests do not serve as proof that a person was actually found guilty of a crime, and could serve as a discriminatory reason for disqualifying applicants. The same could be said about convictions unless they are directly related to the requirements for the position, and consistent with the needs of the business.

Questions about graduation dates – These questions could give a hiring manager improper information about an applicant’s age, and could violate the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act). Indeed, it is appropriate to ask if the applicant is over the age of 18 if it is required for the position. Otherwise, asking if the applicant has graduated from relevant programs is all that is needed.

If you have additional questions about job application inquiries, an experienced employment law attorney can help.