What Are the Legal Rights of a Job Applicant?

When looking for a job, applicants may believe they are at the mercy of the hiring decision makers. Prospective employees often bend over backwards to make a good impression, sometimes even enduring treatment that seems inappropriate or demeaning. The power imbalance can feel very real, but there are laws that aim to protect applicants from such unfair treatment.

The law offers protections for job applicants under the direction of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which oversees employment issues, including those involved in the hiring process, before any true employment situation is established, even if no hiring ever takes place.

Job applicants are protected from workplace discrimination that may be evident in the hiring process from the job posting, to the interview process, to the final candidate selection.

What Areas of Employment and Hiring Are Regulated by Law to Protect Applicants?

Anti-discrimination laws that forbid employers from making hiring decisions on the basis of an applicant’s race, sex, or age are some of the most well-known protections for job applicants, but there are other types as well. These other protections include protection from financial discrimination.

Further, applicants are protected from any form of retaliation for bringing attention to the unfair treatment to which they were subjected.

What Personal Characteristics Are Protected under Anti-Discrimination Laws?

Federal law protects an individual job candidate from being evaluated on the basis of any of the following characteristics:

  • Race, ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status
  • Gender or sex, including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy
  • Age, unless it is to certify that the applicant is over age 18
  • Religion
  • Disability

What Interview Topics Are Off Limits?

The interview process is meant to allow the employer and the applicant to get to know one another, but the evaluation should be limited to topics that are relevant to whether the applicant is qualified for the job.

There are some topics that the employer is explicitly prevented by law from asking about. These include:

  • Marital status
  • Status as a parent, or plans to become one
  • Race, ethnicity, national origin
  • Religion
  • Age, other than asking if they are over 18
  • Citizenship status, which can be verified after an offer is made
  • Sexual orientation or identity
  • Pregnancy status
  • Disability
  • History or existence of substance abuse

One caveat exists: Employers may discuss any of these topics if it is clear that their questions pertain to the applicant’s ability to do the job. The employer may even use the information gleaned from these discussions to make a determination about hiring, as long as the discriminatory decision is based on a genuine occupational qualification. 

What Are an Applicant’s Rights Regarding Financial Disclosures?

Some jobs require a credit check for an applicant to proceed in the hiring process. These jobs are typically in the financial sector or have to do with money. Checking an applicant’s credit profile can be necessary to ensure that the individual is not financially compromised or experiencing any conflicts of interest or debt issues. However, the process for how an employer can obtain this information is regulated under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that requires the employer to notify the applicant of their intent to seek the credit report. The credit reporting agency cannot release the report unless the employer has the consent of the applicant. If the employer decides not to hire the applicant as a result of the information on the credit report, the employer must explain why and provide time for the applicant to review and resolve the issues presented in the report.

South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, Represent Workers Who Have Experienced Discrimination in Their Job Search

If you believe you were discriminated against by a potential employer, you may have a case against the company that treated you unfairly. The South Jersey employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC, have extensive experience sorting out the details that can prove that an employer acted in violation of anti-discrimination laws. To learn more about how we can help, call us today at 856-235-7075 or contact us online for a free consultation. With office locations in Mount Laurel and Atlantic City, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients from Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and throughout South Jersey.