Can an interviewer ask me about my religion?

I was asked during an interview how my religion (Christian) would affect my interactions with a clientele of mostly Jewish, Arabic and Chaldean clients. I was hired for the job but let go after one week without a stated reason for the termination. I asked my former employer to be more specific but she would only say that “It’s just not working out.” I’m curious to know if I should go after her for discriminatory practices.

Posted  02-17-2014

Ann Kiernan replies:

That interview question was completely inappropriate! Religion has nothing to do with good customer service. By asking a Christian a question that would not be put to a Jew, Arab, or Chaldean, and then by firing you without giving you a reason, the employer has violated several principles set out in the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission s Best Practices for Eradicating Religious Discrimination in the Workplace guidance:

  • In conducting job interviews, employers can ensure nondiscriminatory treatment by asking the same questions of all applicants for a particular job or category of job and inquiring about matters directly related to the position in question.
  • Employers can reduce the risk of religious discrimination claims by carefully and timely recording the accurate business reasons for disciplinary or performance related actions and sharing these reasons with the affected employees.

I suggest that you consult a local employment lawyer about your rights. Good luck.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.