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What questions are employers in California prohibited from asking applicants?

The California Civil Rights Department prohibits any non-job-related inquiries of applicants or employees, either verbally or through the use of an application form, that express directly or indirectly a limitation, specification or discrimination as to race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, military or veteran status. Interviews and job applications should be structured to elicit only information concerning the applicant's qualifications and ability to perform the job. Many interview inquiries can expose employers to liability because they may suggest a discriminatory motive or intent by the interviewer.

California employers are generally prohibited from making the following inquires:

  • Requiring any medical or psychological examination or making any inquiry as to whether an applicant has a mental or physical disability or medical condition. Persons must not be excluded from a job because of a generalization about any disability.
  • Asking whether the applicant has ever filed a workers' compensation claim.
  • Asking job applicants or employees about arrests that did not lead to conviction or about a pretrial or post-trial diversion program.
  • Asking job applicants about their criminal conviction history until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.  
  • Asking job applicants or employees about convictions for minor marijuana offenses more than two years old.
  • Asking applicants about salary history information, including compensation and benefits.  

Applicants and employees may not be required to submit to or take a polygraph, lie detector or similar test or examination as a condition of employment or continued employment. In addition, employers may also not subject, directly or indirectly, any employee, applicant or other person to a test for the presence of a genetic characteristic. 


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