Compliance - The Do's and Don'ts of California Employment Applications

The following represent items which should no longer be included on employment applications in California:

  • Social Security Numbers - identity theft has made it good practice to not include space on an application for the SSN unless access to such applications is restricted and special care taken to their disposal.
  • Dates of Birth - it is acceptable to ask if the applicant is over the age of 16, 18 or 21 depending on job requirements. 
  • Dates of school attendance and/or graduation
  • Martial status and maiden names
  • Race, ancestry, national origin or ethnic identity, including place of birth - employers may request what languages the applicant speaks, reads or writes if use of another language is advantageous for the position.
  • Sexual orientation, gender expression or gender identity
  • Pregnancy status or number of dependents
  • Immigration or citizenship status
  • Medical conditions and disability status
  • Religious affiliations - employers may state the company's regular business hours and shifts, but if it does, the application must indicate that the company provides reasonable accommodation of religious practices that do not pose undue hardship.
  • Military status, veteran status and dates of military service - employers must still include a section in the application for the applicant to describe military service as experience or skills.
  • General questions about clubs, volunteer services, civic organizations or societies - unless the application allows applicants to omit organizations which may indicate protected status.
  • Criminal arrests and convictions - employers may not ask about arrests. For convictions, employers may not ask about convictions which resulted in a referral to, and/or participation in, a pre-trial or post-trial, diversion program. Employers may not ask about convictions which have been judicially expunged, eradicated, dismissed, or sealed; or related to marijuana offenses that occurred two years prior to the application being completed.
If any of the above items are necessary as part of a background check process, they should be requested during that process. Applicant's should be provided a release form which requests specific information, as a stand-alone document, wholly separate from the application.

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