Philadelphia Employment Law News

Video Job Interviews: A New Way to Unlawfully Discriminate?

There's a new way to hire people these days that could help match the right people with the right jobs -- or just open the door to a new way to get around anti-discrimination laws. That's the fun question lawyers like to bring up with new technology: "It's great, but how are people's rights affected?"

The new technology here is a way to send video answers to interview questions the same way you send an email. HireVue, one of the top companies providing this service, created a program that will give a job applicant a list of questions that they then video-record themselves answering, according to Forbes.

The idea is that recruiters and HR staff will be able to better review multiple applicants without spending as much time and money on traditional in-person interviews, according to Forbes. But can the tool be used for discriminatory purposes, such as asking illegal interview questions?

It would certainly help to know what questions are illegal. In general, questions that deal with race, gender, cultural background, marital status, age, etc., are illegal. This is because they have nothing to do with job qualifications and everything to do with issues of discrimination.

All of the laws preventing discrimination in the workplace also prevent discrimination in the hiring process. That means that if you are passed over for a job for any of these reasons, you can lodge a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

With HireVue's new technology, employers can either enter the questions themselves, or they can use questions provided by the company. It's likely that HireVue has employment lawyers on staff who have vetted the questions that the company provides.

If HireVue has properly screened its questions, then any potentially illegal questions would come from employers. While an employer would could try to assert that he did not actually ask the question, this would be a very tenuous argument. Just because an interview question is written doesn't take away its discriminatory nature.

However, video interviewing could possibly allow employers to unlawfully discriminate based on race. A company could hypothetically send out a HireVue to qualified candidates, and then pick only those of a specific race for the final in-person interviews.

While it could be difficult to prove that a company is using HireVue for a discriminatory purpose, it is certainly a possibility. On the other hand, it's also possible the new video interviewing technology could end up being a great way for people to get a job.

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