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How much do you know about prohibited hiring practices in MN?

When a person receives a call asking them to come in for a job interview, it’s not uncommon for them to experience a range of emotions including excitement and even some anxiety. This is perfectly understandable given the possibilities, as well as everything involved in the hiring and interviewing process.

However, it’s important to note that there are certain emotions that a person shouldn’t have to experience regarding the pre-employment process, including the distress, discomfort and a general feeling of unease that comes from being made to answer inquiries that could potentially be used by the employer in a discriminatory manner.

Fortunately, the Minnesota Human Rights Act recognizes this potential problem and has set forth specific provisions barring employers from certain pre-employment practices. In today’s post, the first in a series, we’ll take a closer look at some of these pre-employment practices.

Can a prospective employer directly ask for information about things like race, age, or sexual orientation before hiring me?

No, employers cannot request or compel prospective hires to provide information on age, color, creed, disability, familial status, marital status, national origin, public assistance status, race, religion or sexual orientation. These sorts of direct inquiries are considered discriminatory and therefore illegal under state law.

When you say “direct inquiries,” what exactly does this include?

Employers cannot seek to acquire the aforementioned information from potential hires via application forms, interviews, health history/physical exams, and third party sources such as background checks, previous employers and employment agencies.

Can a prospective employer indirectly seek to acquire information about things like race, age, or sexual orientation before hiring me?

No, employers cannot make indirect inquiries to glean information on a potential hire’s age, color, creed, disability, familial status, marital status, national origin, public assistance status, race, religion or sexual orientation. Doing so may be treated as a violation of state law and also subject the employer to a private lawsuit filed by the job candidate.

If you believe that you have been victimized by discrimination in the hiring process or any other aspect of your job, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about your options and your rights.

Source: Minnesota Department of Human Rights, “Prohibited pre-employment practices,” Accessed Oct. 2, 2014

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