Advice to Employers on Job Applications: Tread a Bit Carefully

They’re not innocuous.

Rather, they are centrally marked by “a number of minefields” that employers in Connecticut and all other states across the country must pay due heed to and steer clear of to avoid potential liability.

What commentator Jennifer R. Cotner is addressing in an article in an employment-themed publication are the pitfalls closely linked with mistakes that business managers can easily make concerning the questions they pose in job applications.

Cotner properly points out in her comments that some subject matter and certain questions simply cannot be raised in a formal application, and it is incumbent on HR principals and other company decision makers to ensure that topics are not broached that are lawfully off limits in the hiring process.

Here’s one example, in the form of an altogether direct interrogatory: Are you married?

In some states, Cotner notes, “marital or familial status is a protected classification” that is flatly taboo as a discussion point at any time during the application process.

Other questions yield a similar concern for their ability to run quickly afoul of both state and federal laws. Here are just a few, which we suspect many of our readers have already formulated in their minds:

  • Do you follow any particular religion?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Do you have medical information to impart regarding any disability?
  • Have you ever been arrested for a crime?

At bottom, common sense largely prevails when it comes to the information and attendant data solicited on a job application. In addition, though, complexities and evolving laws can make it a worthwhile endeavor for any employer to consult with a proven employment attorney for advice regarding job application best practices.

And workers, too (both prospective and actual employees) can receive candid guidance and diligent representation in the event that the documents they have completed might conceivably surface later as evidence in a legal matter.

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