Interviewing and Selecting Job Candidates: California
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Authors: Anthony J. Oncidi and Adam W.G. Freed, Proskauer Rose LLP
- California antidiscrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of protected characteristics or even the perception that someone is a member of a protected class. See The Application Process.
- California law is more protective than federal law on the issue of disability discrimination. For example, California prohibits discriminating against a person based on a medical condition, which includes any health impairment that is related to or associated with a cancer diagnosis, a record or history of cancer, or one's genetic characteristics. See Disability Issues.
- Private employers generally may ask about convictions (except for marijuana convictions over two years old), but not arrests (except for where the applicant is out on bail). See Arrest and Conviction Records.
- Questions about criminal records that have been sealed or expunged are to be avoided during the hiring process. See Expunged Criminal Records.
- State law prohibits most private employers from asking criminal history questions until after making a conditional employment offer. See Ban the Box Law.
- During interviews, employers should avoid overselling the job, should ask consistent questions and should avoid questions that relate to protected characteristics. The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment provides a Fact Sheet with helpful guidance. See Interviewing Applicants.
- California bans employers from relying on an applicant's salary history in determing what salary to offer or whether to offer employment. See Salary History Inquiries.
- Employers must carefully check a candidate's employment history, criminal history, and references to avoid potential negligent hiring lawsuits, while still respecting the candidate's constitutionally-protected right to privacy. See Selecting Candidates; Reference Checks.
- Employers may not request social media user names and passwords of job applicants to access their personal social media websites. See Social Media Law.
- California bans discrimination against prospective employees based on their failure to designate male or female on a job application form. See Transgender Identity and Expression.
- Localities including Los Angeles, Richmond and San Francisco have requirements pertaining to interviewing and selecting job candidates. See Local Requirements.