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Job Application Questions: Employer and Candidate Rights

Case Study Scenario:
The following information is sometimes requested on employment applications, though candidates might consider some of it to be private or personal. Which of the following items might an employer have a legitimate claim to know, and why?
- A job applicant's social security number
- An applicant's arrest record
- An employee's medical records
- An employee's marital status
- Whether a job applicant smokes
- An employee's political affiliation
- An employee's sexual orientation
- An employee's credit rating

Case Study Questions:
What facts are relevant to your decisions?
What would the consequences be of refusing to answer any questions on an employment application?
Are you basing your decision on particular rights of the employee or the employer?
Are there people other than the employer and employee who might have a stake in what information is released to employers?

The solution addresses each of these questions; citing legal ramifications in posing these specific questions - along with ideas on how to rephrase others as a way to gather the same information.

Solution Preview

How information is requested could result in the employer not having a right to ask any of these questions, phrased in the specific way they are, on an employment application. Employment applications are often intended to be a method of pre-screening candidates for requirements of the position. To avoid any violations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, information requested on an employment application must be a bona fide occupational qualifier (BFOQ) of the position; otherwise the organization is at risk of discrimination claims.

Instead of asking for a social security number, the employer should simply ask if the candidate is legally able to work in the United States. Arrest records and convictions are two completely different sets of information. Candidates may have charges that never resulted in convictions and/or were completely dropped. ...

Solution Summary

This solution is over 500 words and analyzes the potential legal ramifications for employers who ask questions on job applications such as marital status, sexual orientation and credit rating. The solution explains when legitimate reasons may exist for the employer in asking certain questions; and explains alternative ways to ask about other topics.