Despite the noteworthy progress of women’s rights and gender equality, including their representation in the workplace, women still experience marked employment discrimination. Women are twice as likely to suffer discrimination based on their gender in the workplace than men, with nearly 42% of women reporting such discrimination. Discrimination is not limited to employees, but also affects women as they apply for jobs across the country.
Discrimination During the Interview Process
Many women face discrimination during the pre-employment interview stage, even before they have a chance to be hired into the workplace. During interviews, women can be subjected to prejudices based on their gender, as well as asked interview questions that have been found to be illegal. In an effort to avoid these issues, some women modify their behavior or appearance, and even alter their responses to inappropriate questions. What are some of the questions or interview topics that are off-limits?
Questions Related to Pregnancy are Off-Limits
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects the rights of pregnant women in the workplace. These protections include various stipulations regarding providing certain reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees in order to allow them to perform their jobs and holding their positions for them until they return from maternity leave.
For many businesses, these requirements pose burdens that, while seen as reasonable to the courts, are not well-received by business owners. For these reasons, some employers try to take steps to determine whether a female applicant is pregnant or plans to become pregnant in the near future. Consequently, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act has made it illegal for employers to ask questions along those lines. As a result, women have the right to refuse to answer such questions, but that refusal may still cost you a job.
Discrimination Based on Relationship Status
Although Title VII does not specifically refer to discrimination based on relationship or marital status, employers are not allowed to ask potential employees questions about marital status, as that could be the basis of sex discrimination, depending on the situation. Like questions about pregnancy, interviewees are not required to answer questions about their marital or relationship status. In those states that recognize claims of sexual orientation discrimination, these types of questions could also be troublesome.
Advice for Female Job Applicants
While interviews can be a challenge under normal circumstances, female job applicants may have a tough battle when it comes to not giving away too much information accidentally. For example, it is important not to reveal too much personal information about yourself that is not related to the job you are applying for. The risk of this comes during small talk when an applicant’s guard is down, and they let private information slip out. Always think before you speak and stay friendly but professional.
Beware of leading statements that interviewers might make with the hopes of eliciting illegal, personal information. For instance, the interviewer might mention their family situations with the hopes of encouraging a response in kind.
If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace, or if you have any other questions regarding your employment rights, please contact Lundell Law Firm to speak with an experienced employment attorney.