ASKING FOR JOB APPLICANT AGE IS A NO-NO « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


California’s Updated Guidelines for Hiring Interviews and Applications

California employers must comply with increasingly complex anti-discrimination laws. See, New Transgender Rights in the Workplace (July, 2017), High Times in California (April, 2017), and Banning the Box in Los Angeles (March, 2017).

To further aid management in determining a person’s job qualifications without violating the applicant’s rights, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has published “Employment Inquiries: What Can Employers Ask Applicants and Employees?” (Fact Sheet [DFEH-E06P], May, 2017).

This fact sheet reminds employers they must not directly or indirectly obtain information that could divulge an applicant’s membership in a “protected class,” such as age, race, color, religion, and gender. It also reiterates prohibitions against direct discriminatory practices as well as neutral practices with an indirect, disproportionate negative impact on members of any “protected class.”

The fact sheet also provides detailed examples of acceptable and unacceptable inquiries. For example, employers may confirm an applicant is of legal age (18 or over), but may not ask questions that would otherwise reveal age, such as school attendance or graduation dates, or advertise for “college age” or “digital native” applicants.

Additional job hiring topics to avoid include:

  • Race
  • Fertility/childbirth
  • Biological gender
  • Gender identity, gender expression, or medical or surgical status or procedures
  • Marital status
  • Ages/numbers of children or dependents
  • Generalized inquiries as to health and present medical condition(s)
  • Nationality, ancestry, descent or parentage
  • Maiden name
  • Origin of a first or last name
  • How the applicant learned to speak a foreign language
  • Request for applicants’ photographs
  • Birthplace or citizenship status
  • Religious affiliation, dress, practices, or lack thereof

Employers should promptly distribute this new fact sheet to their job interviewers and periodically review and update their practices to ensure compliance with current legal standards.

See also, Job Interviewer Guidelines (June, 2016).

For more information, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Cindy Bamforth
August 8, 2017