is it legal for a manager to ask personal questions about an employee?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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is it legal for a manager to ask personal questions about an employee?

a person of whom i work with at the same store, his department manager asked him a personal question about being arrested in the past the year 2014 does this go against the equal oppourtunity employment? what do you recommend him doing?

Asked on November 10, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, North Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, that is perfectly legal. There is no such thing as "equal opportunity employment," to begin with: certain kinds of discrimination are barred by law, but only those kinds. The main prohibited kinds of discrimination are against people due to their race, colork national origin, sex, religion, disability, or being age 40 or over. However, employers may discriminate on other grounds: a Republican manager, for example, does not need to hire Democrats, or vice versa; someone who loves sports can refuse to employe someone who feels professional sports are dumb; a person who had a bad experience while visiting or living in the South could refuse to employ anyone from AL, GA, SC, etc.
And, specifically to this point, there is no protection from being discriminated against due to a criminal background or history: employers are allowed to inquire into this and to refuse to hire, to fire (if already employed), or to refuse to promote, to demote, to transfer to a different position, etc. someone due to a criminal background. So the manager may legally ask about this and may take action based on what she finds out or suspects.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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