Suing for illegal interview questions

I was asked two questions in a job interview that I believe were illegal. Do I have a family? Am I married? Do I have children, how old. What is his daycare situation? These were the first questions I was asked in the initial interview and felt very uncomfortable because I felt it was important that I be married to get the job? In the event they were illegal questions if I were to sue what would I get out of suing? I am currently employed but I believe I missed this job opportunity because of my answers. Can you help? Thanks - Lori

2 answers  |  asked May 6, 2002 10:57 AM [EST]  |  applies to Texas

Answers (2)

Margaret A. Harris
What Was He Thinking?

I am going to assume that the interviewer was a male, but it really does not matter. Most human resources folks would advise an employer to never ever ask those questions. They are not illegal, but what they indicate is that the interviewer thought that they were important to ask for some reason -- and, since discrimination because of sex is illegal, you could fairly assume that the interviewer has bad stereotypes about women. The most common stereotype is that, if you are a female with children, you will miss a lot of work. Now, of course, it may not mean that this is what the interviewer had in his mind, but it sure does raise the question in my mind. If were not offered the job, and if you believe that it was because you are female, then these questions would be part of the evidence that the employer discriminated against you. What would you get if you sued? That depends on whether the job you did not get would have brought you more income than the one you have right now. I suggest that you talk one on one with a lawyer in your area who regularly represents employees in these kinds of disputes. You also have various deadlines that you must abide by. Check out a web site at and it tells you what those various deadlines are in texas. It's a great website, and has very specific information about the legal rights of employees in various states. And, good luck to you.
Margie Harris
Houston, Texas

posted by Margaret A. Harris  |  May 8, 2002 5:49 PM [EST]
Trey Henderson
interview questions

You have a tough case to prove in court. Techincially, the questions you described are not "illegal". If you can prove that the questions were asked to weed you out for insurance coverage, you might have a case under ERISA. The type of interview questions that give rise to most cases are ones that violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, such as "what is wrong with your legs". I recommend you contact your local EEOC office and inquire about the questions asked.

posted by Trey Henderson  |  May 6, 2002 9:00 PM [EST]

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