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Pre-Employment Inquiries

Purpose of Guide:

The Arizona Civil Rights Act contains a number of specific provisions designed to prevent discrimination in employment. Although the Act does not expressly prohibit pre-employment inquiries based on an applicant’s race, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin, such questions usually bear no demonstrable relationship to a job applicant’s abilities or qualifications and, consequently, serve no lawful purpose.

The Act’s restrictions may necessitate changes in the content of application forms as well as oral questions asked of applicants. It is the employer’s right to establish job related requirements and to seek the most qualified individual for the job. Information obtained through application forms and interviews is presumed to be used by the employer in making selection and assignment decisions. For this reason, the employer should make only those inquiries necessary to determine the applicant’s eligibility to be considered for employment.

Documents required for legitimate business purposes that reveal protected information (such as birth certificates or naturalization papers) may be requested at the point of hire, but not before. The point of hire is reached once the employer has decided to hire the applicant and has so informed the applicant.

This guide is provided to assist private employers in understanding and applying the law. The guide is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all acceptable or unacceptable questions that may constitute evidence of unlawful discrimination. Information obtained through acceptable questions may not be used to unlawfully discriminate in the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin.

This guide pertains only to inquiries directed to an applicant prior to employment. Employers may obtain and use certain protected information pursuant to an exemption from the Arizona Civil Rights Act. The Act permits certain types of discrimination on the basis of applicable security regulations established by the United States, on the basis of a bona fide occupational qualification which is considered essential to a particular position or occupation, or on the basis of religion by a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society.

Inquiries that are otherwise unacceptable but necessary for affirmative action programs or other government reporting or record keeping requirements should be made on a separable portion that will be removed prior to processing the application. Forms with such inquiries should include a statement that the information is for statistical purposes only and will not be part of the application. Such information should be kept separate from regular employee records.

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