What job interview questions are considered unlawful in California?

There are certain restrictions on what California employers can ask candidates during a job interview. Questions must be limited to seeking information about the individual’s background and skills in relation to the position for which they are applying. While some interview questions may seem harmless, they are unlawful.
An employer cannot ask you about personal details that are not related to the job position, such as your political views or religious beliefs. Questions about salary history are also off-limits. Additionally, state law prohibits employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history before a conditional job offer is made.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants based on age, race, religion, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, mental and physical disabilities, national origin and other legally protected characteristics. As a result, employers cannot ask questions about these topics during the hiring process, with limited exceptions.
For example, questions such as “How long have you lived in the United States?” or “Where were you born?” may appear harmless, but they can be viewed as asking about national origin, which is illegal. Employers can ask applicants whether they have legal status to work in the United States, as long as they are not seeking to discriminate.
It is unlawful for employers to ask job applicants about whether they have a disability or health issue. However, they are allowed to ask whether you can perform the job’s essential tasks with or without accommodations.

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