No matter how diligently companies advertise they abide by Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, many still can’t avoid the personal and cultural biases their HR and recruiting staff bring to the workplace. EEO sounds ideal in theory, but is hard to enforce since most people do not willingly admit to their innate biases. With that said, it is imperative that job candidates at risk for these types of biases protect themselves. The candidates most affected by this vicious form of discrimination typically fall within a protected class. In the United States federal anti-discrimination law, a protected class is a group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of that characteristic.

The following characteristics are “protected” by federal law:

  • Race – Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Color – Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Religion – Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • National origin – Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Age (40 and over) – Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Sex – Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets ‘sex’ to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity [1]
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • Citizenship – Immigration Reform and Control Act
  • Familial status – Civil Rights Act of 1968 Title VIII: Housing cannot discriminate for having children, with an exception for senior housing
  • Disability status – Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Veteran status – Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 and Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • Genetic information – Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to an interview and not have to worry about an employer making judgments about the way you look, your national origin, your age, your race or various other traits that have nothing to do with your skills, core competencies and experience? Unfortunately, prejudices and inappropriate questions are quite prevalent throughout the interview process. It is important that you know what to do if faced with this unethical scenario. If you are asked questions that relate to any of the bulleted items above you need to be prepared to respond if you feel like you’re being unfairly discriminated against. Questions relating to any of the characteristics that are “protected” by federal law is a violation of your rights.

Would you like to learn more about how you can avoid the pitfalls of interview discrimination? Contact an APEX Career Services Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC) to learn more about how to protect yourself throughout your job search. We can help you prepare to overcome recruiting biases and discriminatory questions so you have a better chance during interviews. Contact us today for more info on how we can help you by calling 1-866-333-2739 or through our contact form at www.ApexCareerServices.com. We look forward to helping you!

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