Jeff On Call: What Job Requirements Are Legally Discriminatory?


Q: What job requirements are legally discriminatory?

The shorthand way to analyze this is anything that isn’t objectively job related.

There’s a whole industry of consultants and lawyers out there who will tell you that in expensive ways. But it’s the only working definition you need. Call our office if you run into a questionable requirement.

Keep in mind that “discrimination” in a legal sense refers only to consideration of certain cultural, physical, and mental characteristics. Recruiters are paid to discriminate on the basis of job skills, personal qualifications, and experience.

Here are areas of inquiry and presentation to avoid:

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  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Physical Characteristics
  • Psychological Attributes
  • Marital Status
  • Family and Personal Responsibilities

It’s easy to find some hypothetical way to trap yourself with marginally job-related requirements. But as a practical matter, you can’t consider them.

You’re as liable as the employer (jointly and severally) under virtually all federal and state laws. Only you’re not as able to defend yourself.


To participate in future Q&As, email Keep in mind you should always consult with your own attorney. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice. It is for your information only.

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


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