To administer its responsibilities, the EEOC accepts written charges filed against an employer alleging that it has engaged in unlawful employment practice in violation of Title VII or other federal civil rights laws and has the power to bring suits, subpoena witnesses, issue guidelines which have the force of law, render decisions, provide legal assistance to complainants, etc., in regard to fair employment.
To take a closer look at just one of the areas of employment the EEOC monitors, read the following list of topics you're prohibited from discussing with a job applicant, either on the application form or during an interview:
- Age or date of birth (except when necessary to satisfy applicable age laws)
- Sex, race, creed, color, religion or national origin
- Disabilities of any kind
- Date and type of military discharge
- Marital status
- Maiden name (for female applicants)
- If a person is a citizen; however, you can ask if he or she, after employment, can submit proof of the legal right to work in the United States
Other questions to avoid:
- How many children do you have? How old are they? Who will care for them while you're at work?
- Have you ever been treated by a psychologist or a psychiatrist?
- Have you ever been treated for drug addiction or alcoholism?
- Have you ever been arrested? (You may, however, ask if the person has been convicted if it's accompanied by a statement saying that a conviction will not necessarily disqualify an applicant for employment.)
- How many days were you sick last year?
- Have you ever filed for workers' compensation? Have you ever been injured on the job?
Basically, you can't ask about anything directly related to the job. When in doubt whether a question or comment is offensive or not, play it safe and zip your lip. In today's lawsuit-happy environment, an offhand remark could cost you plenty.