Loaded interview questions in Wisconsin is something many employment law attorneys in Wisconsin are kept busy with addressing. The law provides for fair hiring practices, and give some loaded/illegal interview questions that are commonly asked. One of the main purposes of Wisconsin’s Fair Employment Law is to encourage employers to hire based on an applicant’s qualifications, instead of the class to which they belong. It is illegal to “print or calculate any statement, advertisement or publication, or to use any form of application for employment or to make any inquiry in connection with prospective employment, which implies or expresses any limitation or discrimination based upon a person’s race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, age, sex disability, arrest or conviction record, marital status, sexual orientation, military reserve membership, or the use or nonuse of lawful products away from work.” Any question in the hiring decision that implies a person’s membership in a protected class may be deemed unlawful.
Before entering into the hiring process, a business should review the essential job functions and the skills needed for the position. This information can then help to establish interview questions that are directly related to the job duties. Remember that all selection methods should be objective and use relevant benchmarks that can be applied uniformly. It is also important to review and revise your advertising and recruiting techniques to be sure that you are obtaining a diverse applicant pool. Make sure that the language used within the advertisement does not imply or express an unlawful preference or limitation.
Here is a list of loaded interview questions, and why they are considered illegal.
How old are you? What is your date of birth? -These questions should be avoided because it is unlawful to discriminate against persons age 40 or older.
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of any crimes?-Wisconsin prohibits inquiries about past arrest records and convictions, but it does permit consideration of a current arrest. It is important to know that an employer may refuse to hire an applicant if their current arrest or conviction record directly relates to their ability to perform the job.
- Are you available to work on Saturday or Sunday? -This question may discourage an applicant while religion prohibits Saturday or Sunday work. If a question such as this is asked, the interviewer should make it known that they will accommodate any religious beliefs and practices.
- Do you have any children? How many and how old are they? Do you have childcare arrangements? Are you pregnant? –These questions are deemed unlawful because they generally are only asked to female applicants.
- What country are you a citizen of? Do you have the right to work in the United States? – Any inquiries about a person’s citizenship or country of birth are illegal, because it brings up the question of national origin.
- What is your credit or garnishment record like? Are you a homeowner? -These questions may create disparate impact on minorities.
- Do you have any disabilities? What is your health history like?– Questions about an applicant’s disability, health, or worker’s compensation history is illegal due to the federal law, Americans with Disabilities Act.
- What is your educational background? –While this may seem like an acceptable question, unless the educational background is directly related to job performance, this question may create an adverse impact on the applicant pool.
- Do you have any friends or relatives currently working for our company? –This question may lead to a disproportionate number of white males than women or minorities.
- What is your height and weight? –This question may screen out a disproportionate number of women or minorities. It should only be used if the employer can show that it is directly related to job performance.
- What is your English language proficiency?- Some language proficiency may be necessary for many jobs, but employers should be careful about requiring English language proficiency because it may lead to discrimination charges due to an applicant’s national origin.
- Have you previously served in the Military? Are you currently serving as a National Guard of Reservist? –It is illegal to discriminate against someone serving in the National Guard or the reserves.
- Do you smoke? Do you use alcohol? –In Wisconsin it is illegal to discriminate against a person who uses or does not use lawful products.
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