Illegal Employment Interview Questions

job competition new york
Competition in the job market can be stiff

We are in an economy where jobs are at a premium. There are too many people competing for too few jobs. This puts the employers in the driver’s seat.  But whether you are on the West Coast or in New York, employment attorneys will tell you that this does not give the employers carte blanche in the way they treat job candidates.  There are laws that apply to the hiring process. These laws range from conduct of the interviewer to the basis of the decision to hire; from questions that an interviewer cannot ask to what can be considered in a hiring decision.
How Can Job Interview Questions be Illegal?
job interview discrimination
Have you ever been the victim of job discrimination?

Employers have broad latitude when it comes to the question they can ask a candidate during a job interview. However, starting in the 1960s, a series of federal employment laws have protected certain types of information. These laws shut down questions along the lines of race, religious beliefs, health, age, sexual orientation and marital status. In addition to federal law, New York State and local anti-discrimination laws lend additional protections to job candidates.
As objective as the law may try to be, New York employment attorneys will tell you that the law is far from perfect. Though an employer may not discriminate based on the color of your skin, they can discriminate based on the color of something like your tie or shoes. The employer cannot choose to hire or reject you on account of something like your religious beliefs, but they base their decision on your personality and disposition during the interview or even where you may have worked in the past. In other words, an employer can discriminate as long as they do not discriminate in an area where the law designates specific protections.
If You Have Been Discriminated Against, What Are Your Options?
So what do you do if you are asked legally out-of-bounds questions like – What is your age? Are you a Christian (Jew, Muslim, etc.) Are you planning to start a family? Are you disabled? One of your options is to tactfully point out to the interviewer that the question was illegal.  Once the interviewer is alerted, assume that the ball is in the employer’s court.  However, New York employment lawyers say that it is probably a good thing to know right up front that the company is not up to speed on employment issues or, worse yet, intentionally breaking the law.  It is certainly an indication that something worse may be around the corner if you do get hired!
Another option is to go ahead and answer the illegal question. You can answer it honestly, if you believe it will not harm you in any way.  A final option is to give a misleading answer if the question is clearly illegal.  The employer can hardly justify condemning you for lying in response to a question that violates your civil rights. No matter what you decide to do, make sure you take not of what transpires and if you feel you were not hired on account of your response, or lack thereof, you may have a claim against them for discrimination.
Finally, you may find your best option is to contact New York employment attorneys, Valli Kane & Vagnini, LLP, for a free consultation to determine if you have been discriminated against and what your legal rights are.

Is Your Employer Passing You Off As An Independent Contractor?

New York discrimination lawyerWhen you provide services for pay, your employment status is that of either an “employee” or an “independent contractor“. Your employment status is important since employment law treats employees and independent contractors very differently. As New York employment law attorneys point out, these differences give employers many administrative and financial incentives to (mis)classify you as independent contractors when employers should classify you as an employee.
New York employment law attorneys put it in simple terms, when an employer classifies you as an independent contractor there is no benefits package, including no overtime pay, sick days, vacations days, health insurance or pensions. The employer does not have to withhold taxes from your pay and avoids paying unemployment insurance, Medicare and Social Security for those workers. Employers provide independent contractors with an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 1099 in place of the Form W-2. Independent contractors are not protected under The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).Texas employment attorneys
Employers can suffer serious consequences for misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Failure to classify properly an employee can lead to substantial financial liability. In addition to retroactive wages and benefits owed the misclassified employees, there are taxes, substantial fines and penalties involved. Areas that misclassification can effect include:

  • Worker injury claims. If an injury occurs on the job, state workers’ compensation laws usually provide compensation for the injured party. If an independent contractor files a claim and is determined to be an employee of the organization, it could result in civil action and fines against the employer.
  • Worker unemployment claims. In some states, unemployment compensation claims by workers classified as independent contractors may trigger an audit of the employer. If the audit finds misclassification, the employer is liable.
  • Discrimination claims. Though anti-discrimination law has not generally afforded protection to independent contractors, caution is in order. Some courts have allowed the protection to spill over to include independent contractors.
  • Federal tax liability. The adjective that comes up most often to describe the financial liability for misclassification of employees is “onerous”.
  • Third party liability. Responsibility for injured third parties may hang on the determination if a worker is properly classified. A word of caution to employers: Some courts have found that using independent contractors does not shield an employer from liability.

New York employment law attorneysState and federal officials have stepped up their pursuit of companies trying to pass off their employees as independent contractors. If you are located in New York and believe an employer has misclassified you as an independent contractor, you may be entitled compensation and should contact New York employment law attorneys for a consultation.