Many people do not like going to job interviews. They are anxiety-inducing in the best of situations, and then there follows what seems like an inordinately long period as you wait to hear back about whether you got the job. In the meanwhile, you may be obsessing over that question you answered wrong or what some other question really meant.
And that is when the job interviews are aboveboard. When some of the questions seem discriminatory, you could be in for a whole new level of worry, especially if you are denied the job and wonder if discrimination is what caused it.
Can you sue?
You may or may not have a case, depending on a host of particulars. The main question is whether you were taken out of consideration for the job due to your answer to a discriminatory question. Statements from other interviewers (witnesses) in the room or even other job candidates could help build a case. An attorney can provide insight into how worthy a case might be and help prepare a filing for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
As a general rule, interviewers should avoid questions that touch on gender, race, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy status, national origin or age. If you are faced with one of these, you can answer with something such as, “I believe that question is illegal.” However, this approach is too confrontational for most people, so they prefer to assess the intent behind the question. For example, if you are asked, “Do you have children or are you planning to have any soon?” you could answer, “Are you concerned that I might call in sick more often than other employees? I can give you my word that I am up to the job and look forward to showing up every day.”
Of course, it is inevitable to wonder one week later when you get a, “We found another candidate who better matches our needs” letter whether your answer sank your candidacy. An attorney can help you decide whether taking action would be worthwhile.