Can I Ask That?

Under Ohio law employers may not discriminate in their hiring decisions based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age or ancestry. The laws against discrimination do not intend to prohibit employers from obtaining information that is clearly job related and which cannot be used for discriminatory purposes. Furthermore, an employer may be required or permitted to elicit information pursuant to a bona fide affirmative action program. In general, however, the following inquiries are inappropriate:

  1. “I am interviewing a number of people for this position-may I take your picture so I can keep my applicants straight?” This inquiry is inappropriate as a photograph will reveal the race of the applicant.
  2. “Are you a child of the sixties?” This inquiry is inappropriate as it may reveal whether the applicant is over age forty and therefore “age protected.”
  3. “I’m an alum of Central High too! When did you graduate?” This inquiry will also reveal whether the applicant is over age forty and therefore age protected.
  4. “What kind of name is Johnson?” This inquiry may reveal national origin or ancestry and is therefore inappropriate.

To discuss these and other employment application issues, contact Deborah P. Ecker.

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