Are there any limits on what an employer can ask during a job interview?
Yes. Interview questions generally must relate to the skills and background necessary to do the job. For example, an employer normally cannot ask you your age, sexual orientation or religious affiliation. Nor can an interviewer normally ask whether you have or ever had a disability. The employer can, however, ask whether you are able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
In addition, employers usually cannot ask if you’ve ever been arrested if the arrest did not result in a conviction, plea, verdict or finding of guilt. Nor can they obtain your arrest record. If an employer does find out about a past arrest, he or she normally cannot use it in making employment decisions. This protection applies to job applicants and current employees seeking a promotion. (There are exceptions involving police officers and certain other workers.)
An employer can legally ask if you have been arrested and are still facing trial on criminal charges for that arrest. And employers can generally ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. However, there are exceptions here as well. For example, an employer normally cannot ask about a conviction in which the records were sealed, or about any marijuana conviction that took place more than two years ago.