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Interview questions employers cannot ask

Employers should prepare a list of questions they intend to ask job applicants when they come in for the formal interview. The purpose of these questions is to assess whether the individual is the best fit for the position. However, before anyone comes in, the employer first needs to ensure none of the questions violate California law. 

Employers never want to find themselves with an employment discrimination case. One recommended way to lower your liability is to avoid asking the following questions, which applicants could perceive as a boss who wants to weed out people within a given demographic. 

Tips for creating an anti-discrimination policy

One of the best things you can do for your small business is adopting an anti-discrimination policy. Not only will this help prevent discrimination from taking place, but it will also reduce the chances of you being on the receiving end of an employee complaint

You may assume that anti-discrimination laws are enough. However, a policy can help employees feel more welcome and establish procedures for dealing with inappropriate behavior. Here are some areas to consider covering with your anti-discrimination handbook.

Can you ask about an applicant’s citizenship?

If you have ever recruited for a position, you know how difficult it can be to find qualified candidates. In fact, you may look through hundreds of applications before you find a skilled applicant. When you do, you want to be certain your new candidate is employable. 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 prevents U.S. employers from knowingly hiring workers who lack the legal authorization to work in the country. To confirm work eligibility, you must complete and retain I-9 forms for everyone you hire. Can you ask about citizenship status on an employment application, though? 

New CA Laws Target Workplace Sexual Harassment And Discrimination

The #MeToo movement gained national attention in October 2017 when multiple allegations of sexual harassment against movie producer Harvey Weinstein came to light. Since these first revelations, the effects of the #MeToo movement have reverberated in workplaces throughout the U.S., resulting in states like California taking steps to enact new laws and protections aimed to curb sexual harassment in the workplace.

The following senate and assembly bills became state law on Jan. 1, 2019.

Is religious discrimination the reason your job duties changed?

California is a state known for its diversity and both state and federal employment laws prohibit discrimination based on various personal identifying factors including gender, race, national origin and religion. For employees who work in customer-facing roles and wear hijabs, crosses or follow certain grooming practices due to their religious beliefs, there is always fear that a customer may complain about what they are wearing or how they look.

In cases where a customer does complain about an employee's religious dress or appearance and an employee is suddenly moved to a non-customer facing role, he or she may choose to speak with an employment law attorney about filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. 

Is a remote employee who falls ill covered under the CFRA?

The California Family Rights Act is a California statute that permits leave for certain conditions. If you are an eligible employee, you may take leave of up to 12 weeks for a serious health condition or a similar condition that affects a family member. It also covers the birth or adoption of a child.

Lawmakers updated the CFRA in 2015 with new regulations that spell out coverage for remote employees.

Important aspects of employee contracts

Employees are key to many businesses. If employers are not careful, they may find themselves facing litigation for handling certain employee situations in the wrong manner.

To help avoid this, it is important to have proper business practices in place. In that vein, there are a couple of important aspects of employee contracts to be aware of.

What are contract disputes and how can you avoid them?

A contract serves as a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties wherein one or all of the parties agree to a set of terms. Contracts must have a legal purpose and be based on mutual agreement and genuine assent; all parties must willingly participate in the agreement. Additionally, contracts must give all parties something in return in exchange for something of value being surrendered. In order to be legally binding, all parties must be competent and of legal age when signing the contract.

While contracts are often fairly straightforward, contract disputes do happen. A contract dispute occurs when any party disagrees with any of the terms or definitions in a contract.

How to spot workplace discrimination

There are plenty of people who don't like their jobs. We've all complained to friends, family and co-workers about work. In most instances, you likely vent a little bit and move on because you just needed to get something off your chest.

But what if there is more to your situation than a bad day at work? When does a bad experience at the office cross over into discrimination?

What constitutes sexual harassment?

When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, it can be hard to know what crosses the line. Often, it's tempting to ignore harassment or justify an incident by convincing yourself or others it was just a joke.

However, harassment is serious. Even one incident of verbal harassment is a major problem, and should be dealt with. It sounds simple, but that’s rarely the case. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what constitutes harassment.

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