Employment discrimination can occur for many reasons. This happens not just while a worker is already on the job, but during the hiring process. In Oregon, there are laws in place to protect workers and prospective workers.
People who are trying to find work are shielded from various employer behaviors that might negatively impact their chances at getting hired. Knowing what information employers can ask for and whether a violation took place is critical when deciding on how to proceed.
What can employers ask about during the hiring process?
During a job search, the applicant is protected from employers asking for certain information. The employer cannot ask about the person’s protected class status, what their past salaries were, their credit history, whether they are or are not employed at the time or if they have criminal convictions in their past.
The employer does have the right to ask about past salary once a conditional job offer is made. Regarding credit history, there are exceptions. That includes those seeking work at a credit union or federally insured bank and those who are seeking work in the public safety industry such as a police officer. The credit history issue must be linked to the job for them to ask about it.
Asking about current employment or making it a precondition to applying for the job is illegal. Still, employers can ask about a person’s experience, training, education and other factors that could be important regarding being able to do the job.
Regarding criminal history, this is known in Oregon as “ban the box.” This law is in place to help those who might have a criminal past and could otherwise face employment discrimination if it is known beforehand. It is limited to before an initial interview takes place. When there is no interview, the employer cannot ask about criminal history.
Portland only allows employers to factor in criminal history after a conditional offer of employment has been made. Employers can still do background checks and employers can tell potential employees that a criminal background could be part of the decision-making process.
There are options to address employment discrimination in the application process
Despite these laws being in effect, employers might violate them in various ways. The objective is to ensure everyone who is seeking employment is given a fair opportunity to be hired regardless of past issues.
If a person might not have been hired due to reasons other than merit, it is wise to have assistance with analyzing the case, gathering evidence and deciding what legal alternatives are available. Having assistance from professionals who are experienced in employment law can be crucial to achieving justice.