Job candidates await their turn for interviews at the Goodwill Southern California job fair in Bell, Calif. on Friday, March. 9, 2012. California's unemployment rate fell below 11 percent in January for the first time in nearly three years, signaling a continued gradual improvement in the state's economy, officials said Friday.
Whether you think the economy is sinking or swimming, chances are you're going to need new blood in your company sooner or later. And if you're new to the process of sifting through résumés, cover letters and applicants, the very excellent small-business blog FindLaw released a very dense but concise PDF on Thursday on an employer's rights in the hiring process. Some questions are verboten, though, which is sometimes brought up by smart-aleck characters on TV dramas, but it's true:
While employers have enormous latitude in the kind of questions they can ask, certain kinds of questions are illegal. For example, federal law makes it illegal for employers to base employment decisions on someone’s protected characteristics. So asking questions about marital status, plans to have children, drug and alcohol use, and national origin may all be illegal.
It also goes into great detail about the rights applicants have. For example, medical records, credit history and even criminal records might be off limits depending on the state.
It's a quick read, and also a good thing to have on hand in your desk drawer. Give it a read and keep it in mind.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.