Phoenix Arizona Discrimination Law Blog

Questions an interviewer cannot ask you

Unfortunately, discrimination is still a problem in many areas, including Phoenix. While discrimination may not become obvious in a place of employment until a few weeks or months after starting the job, in some cases, the interview itself can produce significant red flags. As the job candidate, it falls to you to be aware of these signals, such as illegal questions.

In general, a potential employer should not ask you questions about your age, race, gender, national origin or your marital status, among others. If an employer does ask you inappropriate questions, the best thing you can do is to politely decline to answer. Here are a few questions that an employer is not allowed to ask to determine your suitability for employment.

Study examines workplace harassment, discrimination

Even though three-quarters of employees surveyed by the company Randstad US said they believed it was important for men to speak up about gender equality in the workplace, half of those surveyed also said they did not do so after a colleague said something that was not appropriate about another employee. Some Arizona workers may also be among the almost half who said their workplace did not offer mentoring or leadership programs tailored for women employees.

The study, which surveyed more than 1,200 workers, also found that almost 25 percent of women said they had suffered setbacks in their career because of rejecting a supervisor's romantic overtures. More than 50 percent of women said they would leave a job where an executive was accused of exchanging sexual favors with the opposite sex for more money or career advancement. Only 39 percent of men said they would.

Title VII protections apply to men as well as women

The gender of a person performing work doesn't matter at all for most jobs. While certain career paths are historically associated with one gender or another, that doesn't mean that there is a natural or biological advantage to either gender in specific lines of work. People of either gender have the right to pursue any line of work they desire.

Unfortunately, some employers still apply gender biases to their hiring, advancement, compensation and termination decisions. They may systemically refuse to promote members of a certain gender above a certain rank within the company or turn a blind eye to a culture of harassment that makes much of the staff feel uncomfortable.

Google announces mandatory arbitration U-turn

Google employees in Arizona and around the country are no longer required to resolve workplace discrimination and wrongful termination disputes through arbitration. The search engine giant made the announcement in a Feb. 21 press release. Workers will also now be permitted to join together to bring class-action lawsuits against the company. The move comes as Google attempts to repair its relationship with its employees in the wake of scandals that prompted 20,000 workers to protest.

The November protest began after Google workers learned that a senior figure in the company had been offered a lucrative exit package despite being credibly accused of sexual harassment. The protesting workers claimed that Google's forced arbitration policy nurtured a culture of secrecy and allowed the company to keep rampant workplace abuses private. Workers also questioned the impartiality of the arbitration process because the arbitrators appointed to resolve disputes were paid for by Google.

What are the possible remedies for sexual harassment?

Despite the progress that the modern world has made toward protecting workers from sexual harassment in the workplace, there is still a long way to go before workplaces are free from harassment entirely. Many people still experience sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination regularly, and may have grounds to file a civil suit against their employer.

For some victims, the difficulty of filing the suit does not seem worth the effort and risk, especially if they work in an environment that encourages this behavior from the top down. This is a reasonable fear, although victims may have more to gain from defending themselves than they realize.

Pattern of Harassment Leads LGBT Officers to Sue their Employers

A series of disturbing incidents of harassment targeting LGBT police officers in Arizona and other states has led to some calls for reform in the law enforcement community. Despite years of internal complaints, these incidents continue to pile up. Now, a series of lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination are flooding law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Each lawsuit is different, but many of them describe the discrimination in great detail. Some common complaints involve cruel taunts, harassment, limits on career advancement, and a hostile work environment. Other lawsuits complain of unfair work standards and being passed over for promotions.

Building a strong discrimination case protects your rights

While everyone hopes that they will not experience discrimination in the workplace, this behavior is still surprisingly prevalent in many industries and fields of work. Those who experience discrimination do not always know how to proceed and may even question the value of filing a complaint or taking further legal action.

If you experienced discrimination in the workplace, it is important to consider all of your options. Falling to file a complaint or pursue appropriate legal actions not only deprives you of resolution to your conflict, it also allows bad behavior to go unpunished in the workplace. For the sake of all employees and for the health of workplaces in general, it is wise to consider how building a strong claim can help and protect you.

Court condones age discrimination agaisnt job applicants

Workers in Arizona and around the country over the age of 40 are protected against unfair treatment in the workplace by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, but the landmark 1967 law does not specifically state that these protections extend to those applying for employment. The courts have consistently ruled that job advertising violates federal civil rights laws when it excludes candidates based on their race, gender, religion or national origin, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled in April 2017 that employers could exclude older job candidates in certain situations without violating the ADEA.

It should be remembered that this controversial ruling only applies to employers in Illinois and is likely to be challenged in the future. However, civil rights groups fear that the decision is a sign of growing judicial bias against older workers. The case involved a 58-year-old man who was not even granted an interview when he applied for an attorney position at a health care company. A less qualified 29-year-old applicant was eventually hired.

Police brutality and the use of unreasonable force

Police brutality has become a sad reality in the modern world. No matter your race or ethnic background, you could be victimized by police who go too far when carrying out their job duties. Fortunately, if you survive the abuse, the law may be on your side; you might be able to pursue financial compensation for justice and restitution.

A successful police brutality claim will primarily hinge on the legal definition of "unreasonable force." This concept is not entirely clear in the language of the law because unreasonable force depends upon the context of the alleged police brutality.

Google workers take a stand against employment discrimination

Every Arizona employer should have the same interest in maintaining a workplace that's free of bias, prejudice, harassment and any other employment-related improprieties. However, achieving that goal while conducting business has been difficult for some companies. To help mitigate losses from lawsuits, pre-dispute arbitrations have become the norm in the vast majority of employment contracts. These require an aggrieved worker to seek some form of alternative dispute resolution prior to filing a lawsuit against the employer. That, however, may be changing.

Mandatory arbitration favors the employer for several reasons. The results are confidential, which allows the company to escape public scrutiny of the findings. Since the objecting employee's lawyer is also bound by confidentiality, no other similarly situated plaintiffs can be contacted. Ultimately, each case must be pursued individually with no option for a class-action lawsuit. This was among the many reasons that Google employees conducted a technology-based campaign to put pressure on tech companies to alter their practices concerning workplace harassment.

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Elizabeth D. Tate, Attorney at Law
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