“Where Did You Go to High School?” – Why Employment Law Training Matters

By: Laura Caty and Cassidy Zang*

You walk into an interview, shake hands, and dive into the process. The first thing you are asked is, “Where did you go to school?” You provide the name of your undergraduate alma mater, but the supervisor replies, “No, I mean high school.” After finding out you both graduated from the same school, the conversation quickly turns into what year you graduated, what neighborhood you grew up, where you go to church, where your kids go to school, and your thoughts on Skyline Chili.

Now the big question: Where did the supervisor go wrong during this interview?

For most Cincinnati natives, nothing stands out. This conversation is par for the course. However, this seemingly innocent conversation could hit several topics that should not be asked during an interview, and are not frankly relevant to an applicant’s ability to do the job. Asking an applicant what year he graduated unveils age. Where you go to church unveils religious preference. And where your kids go to school divulges whether or not you are a parent and may need to take time off to care for the children. The questions could lead to the assumption that if the applicant does not get an offer of employment, it may have been based on their answer (i.e., applicant is 55 years and older generations are not technologically savvy, applicant goes to church every Sunday and we need people working Sundays, applicant has children and we need an employee who is fully devoted to their job and won’t take time off to have children, etc.).

Any one of these questions could open the interview up to scrutiny. If the applicant does not get the job, they could believe they have grounds for a discrimination case based on protected classifications such as age, religion, or marital status, even if they did not receive the job based solely on qualifications.

*The only acceptable question in this interview was whether you like Skyline (and of course the answer was “Yes!”); unless you are more of a Gold Star, Blue Ash or Camp Washington Chili fan.

The first step to avoid issues is to have your managers on the same page. Bricker Graydon’s Labor and Employment team provides training to keep employers and staff up to date on changing laws and best practices. These trainings include:

  • HR 101: Highlights employment law basics and teaches companies how to spot issues.
  • Managing Employee Medical Leaves: Discusses common types of leave, including ADA, FMLA, and Workers’ Compensation.
  • Harassment Prevention: Training for managers and employees on appropriate workplace behavior.
  • Social Media: Addresses online behavior that can lead to issues and liability.
  • FLSA: Covers the importance of understanding minimum wage, over time, “exempt” vs. “non-exempt” employees, employee vs. independent contractor, and more.
  • Navigating Labor Law: Provides insight into what rights an employer has and steps they can take when employees want to unionize.
  • Hot Topics: Features current updates on subjects such as Supreme Court and NLRB decisions, annual employment law year-in-review, and EEOC guidelines.
 *Cassidy Zang is a Law Clerk and not licensed to practice law