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Illegal interview questions: Can we sue?

(36 Posts)
Manoxlon Mon 29-Jun-15 15:44:13

I am tired of being asked "illegal" questions at job interviews- if I'm married, do I have kids, how many, how old, what hubby does for a living, what my parents did for a living... I realise that if I want the job the best thing is to do is to stay calm and reply politely. However, I wonder if I can actually sue? Any thoughts?

CatMilkMan Mon 29-Jun-15 15:49:44

Those questions are illegal?

Nydj Mon 29-Jun-15 15:51:44

The questions you have cited are not illegal. It is inadvisable for a potential employer to ask those questions as they could be used as evidence that he or she unlawfully discriminated against the applicant if, for example, the same questions were not put to all the applicants or were only put to women who appeared to be of a child bearing age etc.

So, no, you can't sue. But, if you feel that the reason you did not get the job is because the employer unlawfully discriminated against you, you could use the fact of the questions being put to you as evidence in a claim for unlawful discrimination.

Pumpeedo Mon 29-Jun-15 15:54:36

Those questions are prohibited at interview. You could answer them truthfully then if you don't get the job ask why you were unsuccessful. If the reasons for not awarding you the job are lame, take legal action. Or you could simply respond with a sweet "I didn't think you were allowed to ask questions like that" at the interview. If you have belt and braces provision for looking after unwell little ones, you could use the opportunity to explain that poorly children will never mean you will be off with them.

itsasmallworldisntit Mon 29-Jun-15 16:01:05

How terrible. You should ring 999.

Pumpeedo Mon 29-Jun-15 16:05:44

Itsasmall, you didn't need to post a response to this. Has being sarcastic and unkind made you feel better? Didn't you think for a moment that the OP might be feeling frustrated and down about not being able to get a job?

Stealthpolarbear Mon 29-Jun-15 16:08:47

No questions are 'illegal' or 'prohibited' in an interview.
It's illegal to discriminate, which is quite hard to defend if you've discussed, eg childcare arrangements or sexual orientation with some candidates.

itsasmallworldisntit Mon 29-Jun-15 16:11:02

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Pumpeedo Mon 29-Jun-15 16:13:02

Well my HR would have a fucking fit if I asked questions like that at interview. I do work for a very PC company though.

Twenty years ago I knew of a woman who went for an interview in a Clarks shoe shop. She was asked if she had children and when she replied yes she was asked who would look after them after school and in the holidays. She didn't get the job but got several thousand pounds in an out of court settlement.

Stealthpolarbear Mon 29-Jun-15 16:13:29

You're happy to be discriminated against, itsasmall?

SunnyBaudelaire Mon 29-Jun-15 16:14:46

'can we sue'? have you got the money for that?

Pumpeedo Mon 29-Jun-15 16:16:48

Itsasmall, you should think of changing your name to Troll. YABU and actually downright nasty and unhelpful.

Manoxlon, are you work averse or do you have a claim culture nature?

itsasmallworldisntit Mon 29-Jun-15 16:18:56

I'm not happy for anybody being discriminated against. What I am against is people after a free ride, trying to get something for nothing.

Stealthpolarbear Mon 29-Jun-15 16:21:03

What do you think is the most effective way to get companies to stop?

HermioneWeasley Mon 29-Jun-15 16:24:32

Depends on the context, I sometimes ask about families, relationships etc as part of the small talk and establishing common ground - especially with other frazzled working mums!

If they said "this is a demanding job, how will you manage childcare?" That's very different.

Pumpeedo Mon 29-Jun-15 16:25:19

How do you know she's after a free ride, itsasmall?

SunnyBaudelaire Mon 29-Jun-15 16:26:23

btw I have never ever in my life been asked what my parents do for a living at a job interview, which makes me doubt the veracity of the OP.

GinUpGirl Mon 29-Jun-15 16:27:33

I'm agreeing with itsasmall. The idea of suing over this is laughable.

Providing feedback to the company would be a good idea though.

MelanieCheeks Mon 29-Jun-15 16:29:32

Are you in the UK, and what sort of jobs are you applying for?

itsasmallworldisntit Mon 29-Jun-15 16:31:46

As OP has been having difficulties at lots of interviews, I would suggest she improved her interview techniques instead of looking for excuses and wanting to sue.

Unexpected Mon 29-Jun-15 17:24:01

In which interview have you been asked what your parents did for a living?

eurochick Mon 29-Jun-15 17:27:13

As has been said, no questions are illegal or prohibited. Questions such as those mentioned in the OP are however ill-advised as they could be used to support a discrimination claim if someone asked them did not get the job. These claims are not easy to prove, however.

BlueBrightFuture Mon 29-Jun-15 18:17:14

I was asked in an interview if I had children and if I had childcare arrangements. This is now a few years ago but I still got the job.. (Should I now wonder if perhaps nobody without DC wanted the job).

I would not worry too much about these type of questions to be honest. I think that sometimes the way you respond to a question carries more weight than how many DC you have and other circumstances. Maybe it would help if you prepared some answers to the questions you find difficult and deliver them in a confident manner.

Good luck!

OllyBJolly Mon 29-Jun-15 18:17:26

I know companies who ask about family background, whether parents are still married etc... perfectly legal but I'm quite sure responses are not at all predictive of how effective candidates will be in the role.

OP, you should aim to take more control of the interview and use it as a platform to show what you can offer the employer. If you are being regularly asked all of these types of questions (which any progressive company would steer well clear of) then I wonder if it's because of the kind of role you are going for (small company/inexperienced management) or if it's because the interviewer is reverting to biographical questions because they get a sense you're uncomfortable with situational or competency based questions?

prh47bridge Mon 29-Jun-15 20:44:03

As some others have said these questions are not illegal so no you cannot sue just because you have been asked. The employer cannot make its recruiting decision based on the answers to these questions. It is therefore inadvisable for the employer to ask as they may face claims of discrimination from unsuccessful candidates but the claim won't necessarily succeed just because the question was asked.

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