Post COVID-19 Questions Jobseekers Should Not Be Asked

When I came across an article from a leading human resources management and software provider about COVID-19 questions employers should avoid during the interview process, I decided job seekers should also know about those questions — which are out-of-bounds when it comes to local, state and federal laws.
• Potential employers should not ask if you have a fever or any other symptoms of COVID-19, or if you have even had COVID-19, until after they extend a conditional job offer to you. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar state laws generally require employers to wait until after they extend a conditional job offer to screen applicants for medical conditions.
• Similarly, they cannot legally ask if you have an underlying health condition that may put you at a higher risk if you contract COVID-19. Again, the ADA and similar state laws generally prohibit employers from asking questions during interviews that lead the job applicant to reveal the existence of a disability.
• Along the same vein, if you are female, federal law (and many state laws) prohibit employers from discriminating against individuals because of pregnancy – and some states expressly prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants because of their marital and/or family status. So, questions like “are you pregnant?,” “who’s responsible for your children’s care?” and “would you need to take leave if your children’s school is closed because of COVID-19?” are strictly prohibited.
• Even if it does not relate to COVID-19, potential employers also should not be inquiring if you took any paid sick leave at your current or previous job. Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers are prohibited from discharging, disciplining or discriminating against any employees because they took paid sick leave – and many state and local laws have protections for employees who use paid sick leave.
• While the Centers for Disease Control says older individuals are at a higher risk of COVID-19, under federal law employers are strictly prohibited from asking if you are over the age of 40, 50, etc. Many states also prohibit age discrimination, some protecting even younger workers.
To be fair, sometimes interviewers don’t even know they are doing anything wrong – but that doesn’t make it right.
Interview questions should be limited to inquiries that reveal only lawful, job-related information.
For more details on questions that are off-limits to employers during job interviews, take a look at this blog at www.flexjobs.com.