Interviewing Q&A – Job Interview Questions Allowed

Q. What pre-employment inquiries may be made regarding disability?
A. NONE! You may not make any pre-offer inquiries about disability or medical history,
on application forms, in job interviews, or in background reference checks.

Q. What questions are allowed?
A. You may ask questions about a person’s ability to perform specific job functions, with or without accommodations. In certain cases, asking someone to describe or demonstrate how they would perform the job task is allowable.

Q. Why this prohibition on questions?
A. It is to assure that qualified candidates are not screened out because of a disability before their actual ability to do a job is evaluated. It is to help shatter stereotypes, especially for people with hidden disabilities who frequently are excluded because of information on application forms.

Q. How can we get this information if we need to know?
A. You may require medical information after a job offer is made, but only if you require it of all candidates. The job offer can be conditionally made, pending results of a postoffer medical exam or inquiry.

Q. What are some examples of pre-offer questions that we should not ask?
A. DO NOT ask, “How many days were you off work for illness last year?” or “Are you taking any prescribed drugs?” or “Have you ever been treated for drug or alcohol addiction?” or “Have you ever filed for worker’s compensation insurance?”

Q: What questions are okay to ask?
A. You can ask an applicant, “Are you able to perform these tasks with or without an accommodation?” If the applicant says yes, you can ask, “How would you perform these tasks?”

Q. What if someone needs an accommodation to apply for the job?
A. You should inform applicants of the need to request accommodations in advance, in order to avoid last minute problems in making the necessary arrangements.

Q. After employment begins, may an employer make disability-related inquiries?
A. Yes, but only if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

Q. What does this mean?
A. When an employer has a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that an employee’s ability to do the essential job functions will be impaired by a medical condition, or that an employee will pose a direct threat, it may be job-related and consistent with business necessity for the employer to make disability-related inquiries or require a medical examination.

Q. What are some examples?
A. Here are some examples:

Example 1

A tax auditor has done fewer audits and made more mistakes in her work lately. When questioned, she tells her supervisor that her medication for lupus makes her lethargic and unable to concentrate. Based on this reasonable belief that her ability will be impaired by a medical condition, her supervisor may ask her to provide documentation from her doctor explaining the effects of the medication on her ability to perform the job.

Example 2

A crane operator works at construction sites hoisting concrete panels weighing several tons. During a break, he appears to become light-headed, has to sit down abruptly, and has trouble catching his breath. In response to a supervisor's question about whether he is feeling all right, he says this has happened to him a few times during the past several months. The employer has a reasonable belief that the employee will pose a direct threat and therefore may require a medical exam to ascertain the crane operator’s fitness for the job.

Example 3

A supervisor overhears a secretary tell a co-worker that she discovered a lump in her breast and is afraid she may have breast cancer. Since that conversation, she still comes to work every day and performs her duties in her normal efficient manner. Since the employer does not have a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that the secretary will not be able to perform her job functions, no disability-related inquiries are allowed.

Example 4

A university food service worker tells his supervisor that he is HIV-positive. The supervisor is concerned because the employee works with sharp knives and might cut himself while preparing food. The food service unit requires any employee working with sharp knives to wear gloves, and frequently observes employees for compliance. Moreover, the Department of Health and Human Services does not include HIV on the list of infectious and communicable diseases that may be transmitted through food handling. Thus the employer does not have a reasonable belief, based on objective evidence, that this employee poses a threat.

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