Getting ready to hire your first employee can be exciting, though you may be unsure of certain requirements during the application and interview process. If you already have employees and experience turnover, you may be in a rush to fill an empty position to avoid any interruption in operations. However, business owners must be careful not to violate the laws that govern the hiring process. All company owners and personnel involved in hiring should be aware of the rules regarding interviews in order to prevent liability. Within those rules, you also want to ask job applicants the right questions to ensure you hire the best person for your team.
Anti-Discrimination Laws During Hiring
One of the most important things to remember during interviews is that applicants are covered by anti-discrimination employment laws – even though they are not yet employees. Under these laws, it is illegal to ask questions regarding certain protected factors or to base hiring decisions on those factors. In Texas, those factors include age, race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, religion, and disability.
For instance, the following questions may be illegal:
- When did you graduate from high school? – This question may indicate age
- Do you plan on having children in the future? – This falls under pregnancy discrimination
- Are you in good health? – This could address perceived or actual physical or mental disabilities
- Is English your first or second language? – This could implicate national origin
Some of these questions may seem harmless to a business owner and may seem like something they simply want to know about job candidates. However, it can lead to trouble in the future.
For example, if you ask a female applicant if she is planning to have kids and then choose a different applicant, she may allege that you refused to hire her based on her answer, which is protected under pregnancy discrimination laws. Similarly, if you ask someone their age—and the applicant is over the age of 40—and then hire someone younger, the older applicant may accuse you of age discrimination.
Fighting a discrimination claim can be costly and time-consuming. You need a business lawyer on your side to help you avoid mistakes and liability for your company. It is much easier to discuss interview rules with an attorney prior to an interview than to face a lawsuit over your hiring process afterward.
An experienced business attorney can also help advise you on finding the right candidates and how to select employees who will help your business thrive. You can also discuss taxes, employee policies, and other similar legal issues to ensure you are in compliance with all relevant laws.
Contact a Houston Business Attorney for Help Today
The Weisblatt Law Firm is a full-service business law firm that supports companies of all types and sizes around the Houston area. We can help set up and start-up business, assist you during operations, and even help when it may be time to sell the company. If you own a business, you need the right legal counsel, so please call today at (713) 666-1981 or contact us online.
Attorney Andrew Weisblatt
Mr. Weisblatt has practiced continuously since becoming licensed in 1992 and has represented businesses ranging in size from one person start-up ventures to multi-national corporations employing hundreds of people in multiple countries. From 2005 through 2009 Mr. Weisblatt was in-house counsel and chief operating officer of a multi-national corporation in the steel products industry. That in-house position provided valuable insight into how businesses work and what they actually need from their lawyers – both in-house and outside counsel.