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Did discriminatory interview questions cause you to miss out?

As a woman, you may already know that finding your dream job may come with some difficulties. Though you certainly have worked hard with your education and experience gaining, you likely know that gender and pregnancy discrimination remain serious issues in many industries. Unfortunately, discrimination could take place before or after you start a job.

As with most job applications, you may have recently gone through the interview process at a prospective place of employment. While overall you may think that the interview went well, you may also have some lingering concerns over some of the questions asked. In fact, your prospective employer may have made certain inquiries that were not entirely legal.

Questions that may indicate discrimination

While it is understandable that employers want to ensure that they hire the right individuals for their jobs and that their employees will have time to work, they cannot discriminate against job applicants while looking for the "right" person. In particular, women can face discrimination if employers have concerns about the applicant being pregnant, potentially becoming pregnant or already having children.

If your interviewer asked you any of the following questions, he or she may have acted in a discriminatory manner:

  • What is your marital status?
  • Are you engaged?
  • How many children do you have?
  • What are your children's ages?
  • How are your children cared for?
  • What is your spouse's occupation?
  • Do you take birth control?
  • Are you participating in fertility treatments?

These types of questions may prove even more discriminatory if only female applicants received such questions. However, if a prospective employer does make these or similar inquiries, he or she may be attempting to determine whether you may need maternity leave or other leave under the California Family Rights Act in the future.

How to handle discriminatory questions

When faced with any of these questions, you may have wondered the best way to answer. Some options include:

  • You provide an answer to the question.
  • You state that you do not feel comfortable answering the question.
  • You answer the implied question in regard to the employer's concerns.
  • You ask how the question is relevant to the job opening.

No matter how you handled the question, you are not in the wrong. If you believe that your answer to any of these questions resulted in you not getting the position, you may want to consider taking additional action.

Even before employment, gender discrimination can take place. If you feel that you have been the victim of such actions, you may wish to obtain an assessment of your circumstances do determine whether filing a legal claim may suit your situation.

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